EU Reforms: Angela Merkel vs. Europe

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Divided yet united was a theme of the European Union’s meeting in Brussels on December 19 and 20. On economic policy, the member states showed unification with each other against Germany, but for varying reasons.

At the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for contractual agreements that promote economic reform. Prior to the summit, Merkel spoke before Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. Deutsche Welle covered the speech in which she said that even though there are signs of recovery in countries like Ireland and Spain, the EU needed to implement laws that add extra protections for the health of the single currency.

For Germany, ”one of the most important issues” in the coming years will be European policy, Merkel explained. She said the recommendations were viewed by other EU members in a ”more or less in a friendly way,” but they needed to be formalized. When she reached the summit, friendly was not the vibe being sent by other politicians.

“It’s a Germanic view of how to do structural reform. Everyone else is against it,” one senior diplomat told The Guardian. ”There’s quite a lot tension. It will be a long, bitter and twisted debate.” Allies in the North Germany has traditionally relied on — including the Austrians, Finns, and the Dutch — have come out against the proposal. Southerners, including the French, oppose it as well.

Merkel has already had to walk back her position on the contracts. The original proposal from a year ago was categorized as “a German straitjacket” by one senior official who added that the idea was “dead.”

The Economist‘s Charlemagne column attributes the unification of opposition against Germany, which it notes is a rarity, as politicians wary of the political opposition that could be spawned from such policy. Anti-establishment and anti-EU parties could be fed by such contracts during the elections in May. One source told the outlet that the policy was still lurking in the background, but policymakers needed to wait ” for a better time to revive it.”

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