Goulard: German liberals were punished for abandoning the EU

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French liberal MEP Sylvie Goulard said that the German liberal FDP party, which failed to pass the 5% threshold for returning to the Bundestag in last Sunday’s elections, had been punished for “having lost their European commitment”.

Goulard said that during the eurozone crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had “the brake in her hands” to keep Germany's financial commitments to the European Union at the minimum, and blamed the Free Democratic party (FDP) for having sided with her.

Goulard, who is well known for her federalist views and active role in the European Parliament Spinelli Group, met with Brussels journalists yesterday (24 September) to debrief them on the German elections.

The FDP suffered its greatest defeat at the German elections since 1949 (see background), obtaining 4.8%  and was beaten by the Green Party (8.4%) and the former communist Left Party (8.6%).

“I know personally that Genscher was not happy with this evolution of his party,” she said, referring to Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the veteran FDP politician who as foreign minister for nearly 20 years helped to bring about German reunification. Genscher, who is now 86, made a public appearance in an event organised by  the FDP just before the vote.

“One of the key elements if you compare the FDP now with the FDP 20 years ago, is that they have definitely lost their European commitment. It may not be the only point, you have many other elements related to the business, to their tax proposals, but the most important element is that the two parties that were pleading for less euro – less Europe do not have a good success,” Goulard said, apparently referring to the anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which advocates withdrawal from the euro currency and took 4.7% of the votes.

Goulard, who served as an advisor to former European Commission President Romano Prodi and authored the book Europe for dummies, appeared to be in agreement with the German Social Democrats, who slammed the FDP for having “served the big banks”.

The French MEP used her press briefing to present her new book, Europe: Amour ou chambre à part? (Europe: love or life in separate rooms?). She said she expected “crocodile tears” following the May 2014 European election over very low turnout and gains by extremist parties.

“I’m absolutely convinced that the so-called moderate and pro-European parties are not doing properly the work we are supposed to do for having a lively democracy. And I wanted to ring the alarm bell”, Goulard said.

She also called for responsibility from the press, as the national media were not giving proper attention to European affairs.

“At least as far as France is concerned, I’m sure that the local elections in March would be considered much more important than the European elections. And in two years they will draft reports in Paris on the lack of influence of France in Brussels”, Goulard said.  

“In my opinion the main political parties don’t take Europe seriously and the national elites in the last 20 years more or less, haven’t taken the step in the direction of more integration, of pooling sovereignty, of giving up some power at national level,” she said.

Goulard added that the consequences were that the mainstream parties were “not credible inside” their countries, and that the Union was not credible on the external front.