Home > Uncategorized > Germany’s ‘Master Plan’ for Europe

Germany’s ‘Master Plan’ for Europe

The very idea of national ‘master plan’ always smacks a little too conspiratorial for me, at best I see it as an extreme simplification of a systemic interplay of national actors working for differing goals in an international setting, especially within the EU where borders between national and European policies have increasingly become blurred. Either way, the CDU’s Leitantrag (proposal) on Europe for its current party conference comes as close to a (CDU = major coalition partner ~ ) German ‘master plan’ for Europe as it can get.

For reasons incomprehensible for me, neither the German nor the foreign media seems to have really picked up on this. Neo Nazi crime, the minimum wage, the conservatism debate at large are focused on much more extensively even if arguably changes of this magnitude to the European institutional framework will have a much more important long-term impact. What does this plan entail then?

For the most part it is a compilation of little surprising previously known CDU positions. They are opposed to a centrally organized and governed Europe (Wir wollen kein zentralistisch organisiertes und regiertes Europa), no European debt collectivization (eine unkalkulierbare Vergemeinschaftung der Staatsschulden), no Eurobonds ([wir] lehnen […] die Einführung von Eurobonds strikt ab), current account surpluses as a source of strength not an international problem (Es kann nicht darum gehen, die Starken zu schwächen). In regard to the infamous transfer union there is an interesting emphasis on the opposition to automatic/permanent financial transfers leaving open the possibility of one time payments and other methods (Wir wollen in Europa keinen automatischen Finanzausgleich nach dem Vorbild des deutschen Länderfinanzausgleichs und keine automatischen Haftungsverpflichtungen).

Most revealing though are the actual proposals themselves. The is in favor of ‘more Europe in important policy areas’ (Wir brauchen in wichtigen Politikfeldern mehr Europa), which includes integrative changes to the Economic and Monetary Union and a move of the European Union towards a strong Political Union (Deshalb wollen wir die Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion vollenden und die Europäische Union als starke Politische Union gestalten), which can act internationally also ([die] in der Lage ist, unsere Anliegen international durchzusetzen).

Monetary Union shall be converted into a Stability Union (aus der Währungsunion eine Stabilitätsunion machen). Specifically, the CDU is in favor of the introduction of debt brakes all over the currency zone and as a condition for new Eurozone member states ([wir] setzen […] uns weiterhin für die Einführung einer Schuldenbremse nach deutschem Vorbild in allen Euro-Staaten ein. Die Aufnahme in die Eurozone soll nur noch möglich sein, wenn zuvor entsprechende Regelungen in der Verfassung des beitretenden Staates verankert worden sind).

On the European level the Stability and Growth Pact is supposed to be integrated into the EU Treaties in order to effectively function as a Eurozone-wide debt brake (wir auch den Europäischen Stabilitäts- und Wachstumspakt in die EU-Verträge integrieren, damit er die Wirkung einer Schuldenbremse auf europäischer Ebene entfaltet). In order to reinforce the pact, the European Court of Justice shall be empowered to fine malefactors (der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) [soll] die Einhaltung des Stabilitäts- und Wachstumspaktes künftig durchsetzen und Verstöße ahnden). States incapable of following macro-economic regulations will in a first step receive ‘advising help’ (Beratungshilfe), followed by ‘human resource support’ (personelle Unterstützung) in both cases coming from the Commission. In a last step the ESM shall be activated where ‘unavoidable’ (unabdingbar) and under strict economic and financial conditions (strenge finanz- und wirtschaftspolitische Auflagen). If a debt restructuring becomes necessary an EU Savings Commissioner (Sparkommmissar) shall be allowed to oversee restructuring measures (Restrukturierungsmaßnahmen), he/she shall also be allowed to overrule the state’s government in question (dieser [soll] auch Durchgriffsrechte erhalten, falls der jeweilige Staat seinen Pflichten nicht nachkommt).

Less concrete measures are more spectacular and surprising. Thus the ESM is supposed to be evolving towards a European Monetary Fund. The aforementioned Political Union shall receive a symbolic head with the President of the Commission to be elected by all citizens of the EU! The CDU also wants the emergence of a ‘democratic two chamber system’ (demokratisches Zwei-
Kammer-System) consisting of the European Parliament and the Council, both are to given the right to initiate legislation also (beide Kammern […] [sollen] das Initiativrecht für die EU- Gesetzgebung erhalten). Within this framework of a move towards a more integrated European Political Union and society, the CDU also proposes a common European People’s Party leading candidate for the next EP elections. The European Parliament should also reflect EU population more in the future, more MPs from the bigger member states in other words.

What else? A two speed Europe, potentially outside of existing treaties, is seen as potential but acceptable evil (Die Umsetzung dieser Maßnahmen kann in einer Übergangsphase auch auf der Basis zwischenstaatlicher Lösungen erfolgen) even if everything should be integrated into the EU treaties at some point (neu geschaffenen Regeln der zwischenstaatlichen Zusammenarbeit [sollten] mittelfristig in die EU-Verträge integriert werden).

Really what has to be taken away from this is that the CDU clearly is asking for ever deeper union at this point, subsidiarity is all of a sudden seen as a principle requiring the policy transfer to the European level ([wir] sehen […] die Übertragung von Kompetenzen auf die europäische Ebene im Rahmen des Subsidiaritätsprinzips als die zeitgemäße Form an). Merkel’s party after initially generating some doubts about this during the early months of the Eurozone crisis has clearly laid an emphasis of integration as the way forward.

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  1. Billy
    November 16, 2011 at 03:12

    How much of what the CDU proposal put forward has any chance of passing into German or European law, though?

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