Merkel’s Successor AKK Partly Echoes Macron’s Vision on How ‘Europe Must Become Stronger’
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has spoken out in favor of a greater security and defense role of the European Union.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor as head of Germany’s ruling conservative CDU party, has in turn published an op-ed in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent call “For European Renewal”.
Macron’s address “For European Renewal”, which called for protecting the European Union and its achievements less than two months ahead of the 2019 European Parliament elections, was received positively by German politicians, though some worried Germany was not doing enough to match the initiatives of the French President.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, still widely referred to as Merkel’s successor – although it remains unknown whether she would indeed make it to the post of German Chancellor after Merkel’s fourth term expires in 2021, or in case Merkel resigns earlier – made clear her position on Macron’s ideas for the EU in an op-ed published in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
AKK’s article entitled in English “Getting Europe Right” was also released on the CDU website but only in the EU languages with the largest speaker numbers – English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Polish. (Macron’s statement was translated by the Elysee Palace in all official languages of the EU.)
While echoing much of his vision for a stronger European Union, AKK’s article also revealed where she differed from the French leader.
“Europe must become stronger,” Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote, speaking explicitly of a “European way of life” that she saw as markedly different from the political models of China, Russia, and even the United States.
She plainly rejected in her op-ed certain policies that could be fully or partly favored by France’s leader.
“European centralism, European statism, the communitization of sovereign debt, a Europeanization of social systems and of the minimum wage would be the wrong way,” AKK wrote.
Kramp-Karrenbauer made it clear she agreed with Macron that the EU should be doing a much better job policing its external borders.
She suggested that when migrants first entered the EU, controls should be made to determine if there was an “asylum claim, a refugee status or any other reason for travel to Europe.”
AKK proposed “an electronic entry and exit register” and the “expansion of the Schengen Information System” to include all national and European authorities.
Merkel’s successor as party leader also argued that each EU member state was supposed to contribute to dealing with migration, border management, and refugee reception, but that such contribution should be balanced through overall efforts.
“The more it does in one area, the less should be its contribution in other fields,” she said.
Where Macron had suggested a “European conference” to propose political changes to EU such treat revisions, AKK also agreed there should be discussions involving all member states, not just the “Brussels elite.”
The CDU leader also said EU officials should no longer be exempt from national income taxes.
AKK wrote that the European Parliament should work in Brussels only, instead of alternating with Strasbourg, a potential clashing point with Macron as France has been strongly opposed to doing away with the EU parliamentary role of the symbolic French city in Alsace.
She advocated a Europe-wide pact and a commission for climate protection with consultation to guarantee it had popular support, and an EU investment budget for joint research, development and technology.
Kramp-Karrenbauer argued that Europe should try to shape a version of Islam that is compatible with its values, with imams and Muslim teachers trained in the “tradition of enlightenment and tolerance”
The leader of Germany’s ruling conservative party dedicated a substantial portion of her op-ed to EU foreign policy, security, and defense.
She said the EU must aspire for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, a privilege presently enjoyed by EU members France and the UK (with only France to be left after Brexit).
AKK also called for the creation of a European Security Council for foreign and security policies to involve the post-Brexit UK.
She noted that France and Germany have been working on a future EU combat plane, and “the next step could be to start on the symbolic project of building a common European aircraft carrier”.
(Banner image: AKK on Twitter)