By Ali Azimi

Merkel and the future of the European Union

July 8, 2019 - 14:5
The dispute between the German Chancellor and the French President

TEHRAN-Chancellor of Germany is concerned about the fate of the European Union and the eurozone! It seems that this concern will be further identified in the near future! The EU does not have quiet time! The activity of the nationalist and extremist groups and movements in Europe has created a lot of concerns among the leaders of the European Union.

In such a situation, people like the French President and German Chancellor are worried about the future of the eurozone and the European Union. This concern increases over time. The occurrence of a variety of security, political, economic and social crises has created many challenges in the European Union and the eurozone.

The emergence of these challenges has led to a sharp decline in the popularity of traditional parties in Europe. In such a way, nationalist parties have been able to increase their popularity with the public. Which side are the European Union and the eurozone really heading to? Will the future of Europe finally be clear these are the questions that concern the mentally ill, such as Merkel and Macron? Here are some of the analyzes on the concerns and concerns of the German Chancellor on the European Union and the Eurozone:

With Brexit just one of EU's headaches, Merkel avoids rocking the boat

As Guardian reported, When the German chancellor was asked this week why she would not railroad Italy and the so-called Visegrád group of countries – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary – into accepting the former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, a critic of populist governments, as European commission president, Angela Merkel’s answer was telling.

“The Brexit is looming on the horizon,” Merkel said in reference to the need to avoid tensions when appointing the next head of the commission. “Other important issues are on the table. I think we need to treat each other with care.”

For all the unity it has shown so far in its negotiations with the UK, the EU is straining to keep its many different constituencies onside across a range of other issues. The next five-year term offers more of the same.The divergence in values that threatens to cripple the bloc was neatly highlighted at a summit this month when Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic refused to sign up to a communique that committed to a climate-neutral EU by 2050 – a target that was already seen as too wishy-washy by green lobby groups, given the gravity of the climate emergency.

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, wants to put the world on a path to limiting global warming to 1.5C at a September summit. He had written to Donald Tusk, the outgoing European council president, asking the EU to show leadership on the world stage – and it could not.The three naysayers are seeking extra recompense for making green changes to their economies in the upcoming seven-year budget known as the multiannual financial framework (MFF), but they will face stern challenge from members, such as the Netherlands, which are firmly opposed to the EU being a “transfer union”.

Indeed the negotiations over the MFF, optimistically scheduled to have finished in May, are predictably proving to be a major headache, leading the EU budget commissioner, Günther Oettinger, to recently warn: “It’s not really five minutes to midnight, it’s almost five past midnight already.”

The package asks net recipients such as France and Germany to pay more as a trade-off for less being handed over in cohesion funds to the central and eastern European states, and more being invested in scientific research and development. But failure to find agreement by the end of October could lead to the EU being unable to fund the next round of Horizon Europe research and development programs.

The difficulties in the talks are understandable. The divergence in values is matched by an economic divergence from east to west and north to south that the EU has failed to bridge, despite the almost existential threat it posed during the eurozone crisis, when economies unable to borrow on the market had to come cap in hand to Berlin, only to be put on a humiliating diet of cuts as the price for help. The Guardian view on Europe’s top jobs: the good, the bad and the compromise

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has championed a eurozone budget, to allow the EU to act as a sovereign nation in times of trouble, but there has only yet been agreement on a tiny symbolic pot. No wonder, then, that the populist Italian government has raged at Brussels meddling in its tax and spend plans, which it says is necessary to boost its struggling economy.

But as the new leaders in Brussels – Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde as the first female presidents of the European commission and European Central Bank respectively, and Charles Michel as European council president – move into their offices this autumn, it will be Brexit that will be sucking up their time and energy.

It is certain that the next British prime minister, likely to be Boris Johnson, will not secure the increasingly outlandish potential concessions being touted by the two candidates in the Tory leadership race.

The battle might then be to deal with the economic costs of a no-deal Brexit and a toxic relationship with London at a time when Donald Trump’s White House piles on the pressure through tariffs on trade and China doubles down in its investments in Africa, leaving the EU trailing behind in emerging markets there. Merkel’s commitment to avoiding a row over personnel suddenly becomes more understandable.

How Emmanuel Macron won the battle over the EU’s top jobs

Also, Financial Times reported that 

It is rare for any leader to emerge jubilant from a gruelling three-day international summit. But French president Emmanuel Macron could not hide his satisfaction after this week’s marathon meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

Fifty hours of negotiations, including an all-night session, among the EU’s prime ministers and presidents had yielded a team of high-calibre politicians to lead the union’s institutions for the coming years. It marked a “deep renewal” for the European project, Mr Macron rejoiced, even a new era.

“This agreement is the fruit of a deep Franco-German understanding, and of our ability to work with all the European partners,” the French leader added. “This decision is one which means we do not divide Europe — not politically, nor geographically.”

Thirty hours earlier, the picture had looked completely different. Then, a visibly angry Mr. Macron had emerged from stalled talks to rail against the “divisions” and “hidden agendas” that made it impossible for the bloc to reach decisions. The EU was once again displaying its vacillation at a time when the world around it was in upheaval.

“We give an image of a Europe that is not serious,” said the French leader.

The EU’s sleep-deprived leaders had, at that stage, just endured a last frantic effort to find a winning package. “It was chaos,” says one diplomat. “It got worse hour by hour.” Another describes the scene as “crazy”.

One prime minister had sounded out colleagues about other leaders standing in earshot. Another proposed a slate of politicians only from Germany and the Benelux. Then, to everyone’s relief, the talks were suspended overnight until Tuesday morning.

This was the EU’s third attempt to appoint new heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and European Council as well as a foreign policy chief. It looked like an impossible puzzle but the following evening a deal was struck.

Leaders agreed that Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defence minister, should become commission president, placing her in charge of the EU’s executive arm. France’s Christine Lagarde secured the ECB presidency. Belgian prime minister Charles Michel was named as European Council president, meaning he will chair meetings of EU leaders, and Spain’s Josep Borrell will lead on foreign policy.

Everyone could claim at least a partial victory. Donald Tusk, the outgoing EU Council president, declared that “it was worth waiting for such an outcome”. Yet to many it looked like a typical backroom stitch-up to serve the interests of Europe’s ancien regime. France and Germany shared the two most important jobs.

The spoils were confined to the EU’s three established political families of conservatives, socialists and liberals — with nothing for the resurgent greens and Eurosceptics — and to the countries of western Europe. It was also a result that allowed the center-right European People’s party to extend its 15-year grip on the commission presidency.

But if the outcome apparently maintained the status quo, the process — a “clash between diplomatic Europe and political Europe”, according to Susi Dennison of the European Council on Foreign Relations — revealed the strong undercurrents of change.

It highlighted the shrinking power of German chancellor Angela Merkel, who came under fire from her own colleagues in the center-right EPP, and the disruptive potential of Eastern European governments. It laid bare the sheer complexity of decision-making in an EU of 28 nations, whose parliament has become fragmented and unpredictable after the center-right and center-left blocs lost their combined majority for the first time in 40 years.

There was also a split over how much importance should be attached to finding jobs for the main parties’ Spitzenkandidaten or “lead candidates” who ran in May’s EU elections — a system championed by the European Parliament and some capitals, especially Berlin, as a way to make the union more democratic.

“They tried the Spitzenkandidaten system. It didn’t work. They tried to find a new way. That was the old way,” says Daniela Schwarzer, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank. “It reflects the fragmentation and political divisions in the EU.”

    Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron had arrived in Brussels on Sunday with a joint plan. The German leader had failed at a summit in June to secure the commission presidency for Manfred Weber, a conservative and the EPP’s lead candidate in the elections. His candidacy had encountered a wall of opposition, including from Mr. Macron.

Now there was a radically different plan cooked up by the French and German leaders with their Dutch and Spanish counterparts on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka last weekend: Mr. Weber would become president of the EU parliament, while Frans Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister who led the center-left campaign, would take the commission.

For Ms. Merkel, the approach had the benefit of satisfying her Social Democrat coalition partners at home while hopefully pleasing her own party by finding a prominent role for Mr. Weber.

Shortly after arriving in Brussels, Ms. Merkel discovered that her own political family saw the deal as a surrender. A stormy pre-meeting of EPP leaders at the Palais des Académies on Sunday set the stage for what was to follow, as prime ministers including Croatia’s Andrej Plenkovic and Latvia’s Krisjanis Karins rebelled over a plan that they argued was against the EPP’s interests.

Boyko Borisov, the conservative prime minister of Bulgaria, arrived at the summit stony-faced, saying: “Merkel is chairman of the CDU. Not the EPP.”

Mr. Timmermans also faced implacable opposition from the “Visegrad Four” group of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. The Dutchman has fought battles with the Polish and Hungarian governments in his current role as commission first vice-president charged with preserving the rule of law.

Unwilling to give up on a jobs package that she hoped would shield her from political damage at home, Ms. Merkel held last-ditch talks with other EPP leaders in the early hours of Monday that failed to deliver a breakthrough despite what one diplomat describes as “arm twisting”.

It set the stage for the chaotic period of negotiations that leaders endured before Mr. Tusk suspended the summit.

David-Maria Sassoli elected as president of European Parliament

The package that did eventually emerge after talks resumed on Tuesday bore a clear French imprimatur: Mr. Macron had championed the cause of Ms von der Leyen and now added Ms. Lagarde for the ECB. He pitched the idea of a package based around the two women to Ms. Merkel during a lull in talks.

Mr. Timmermans was out and the centre-right would get the commission presidency after all. The impasse was broken and a consensus reached remarkably quickly, despite failing to meet one of the basic criteria EU leaders had set themselves: regional balance. All four of the people chosen are from western Europe, and three are from the EU’s six founding countries.

Warsaw and Budapest crowed about toppling Mr. Timmermans. But they ended up with Ms von der Leyen, a pro-gay marriage modernising centrist who may turn out to be tougher on democratic backsliding in the east than her predecessor. There was no big job for the region. Diplomats say it reinforced the impression that central and eastern European governments, whose interests often diverge, can be good at wrecking but less so at building.

In a final twist, when it came to a vote by EU leaders on the first German commission president in 50 years, Ms. Merkel found herself in the extraordinary position of having to abstain because her Social Democrat allies back in Berlin were furious at her for dropping the lead candidate system. All other leaders voted in favour of the deal.

 European Union
Christine Lagarde and Ursula von der Leyen: meet the EU’s next leaders
This week’s events revealed how Ms. Merkel’s authority is dwindling. She once ruled supreme over the EPP, but this time she faced open revolt. At home, the EU jobs deal has given the SPD a reason to quit the coalition, which would end Ms. Merkel’s career.

It also illustrated the declining power of the EPP, which for the past two and a half years has held the commission, council and parliament presidencies. The centre of gravity of EPP MEPs has shifted from west to east and towards a conservative-nationalist worldview.

The jobs deal was a blow to the European Parliament and supporters of the lead candidate system. But the legislature is far from cowed. Ms von der Leyen’s appointment requires the approval of MEPs at a confirmation vote in mid-July. The numbers could be tight, which means Ms von der Leyen will have to allow MEPs to shape her program to win confirmation.

“It might appear paradoxical that this unpredictable politics in a fragmented Europe is translating into a very old school, backroom arrangement,” says Alberto Alemanno, professor of European law at HEC business school in Paris. “It is paradoxical, but this is not a done deal. Far from it.”

Mr. Macron was clearly the winner of the week. He may have extended the EPP’s tenure at the top of the commission, but he sees Ms von der Leyen as a pro-European open to French ideas on defence and economic integration. He installed Mr. Michel, one of his closest allies, in the European Council. And he can count on Ms. Lagarde at the ECB doing whatever it takes to defend the eurozone. No wonder he was exultant.

“It is an Act 2 that begins for our Europe,” he said. “A new team, profoundly renewed, new faces, a breath of fresh air.”


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