MEP Giegold: France and Germany no longer able to lead the EU

Sven Giegold.jpg

The EU has “fundamental” structural problems, while France and Germany are no longer able to formulate a common vision for it, said MEP Sven Giegold (Germany, Greens/EFA group) in an interview with EURACTIV Germany.

“The European Union has fundamental structural problems and I am alarmed that Germany and France no longer can formulate a common vision for it. The statement  issued after the meeting of President François Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin is in fact a rejection of an enhanced democratic integration regarding economic issues” Giegold said in an exclusive interview.

Giegold referred to the press release issued following the meeting, when the two leaders spelled out their proposals to the other EU heads of state and government, as a reflection ahead of the 27-28 June EU Council.

The German MEP is concerned in particular that Merkel and Hollande refuse fundamentally to grant the European Commission more power.

“They want apparently to establish a second European bureaucracy around a future full-time President of the Eurogroup. This divides Europe more than it unites it. It will not be in the interest of smaller member states, which permanently would have to deal with the Franco-German leadership,” Giegold said.

The German MEP expressed support for a full-time Eurogroup President, but without a separated new bureaucracy. He also rejected the Merkel-Hollande proposal for a “dedicated structure specific to the Euro area to be set up within the European Parliament,” as it is laid down in the Franco-German statement.

“We do not need another European Parliament. The existing one is the Parliament of the common currency," Giegold said.

The MEP did not limit his criticism to the Franco-German couple. The European Commission “has not done its job thoroughly," he stated.

‘One-sided’ country-specific recommendations

The German MEP slammed the country-specific recommendations that the European Commission issued on 30 May (see background).

“Unfortunately, the recommendations for all countries have been one-sided. The Commission has closely looked at the fiscal policy, also at the necessary reforms of the labour market and the social security systems. However, regarding policies to combat poverty and especially regarding the ecological reform of the economy – both central targets of the Europe 2020 strategy – there are mainly no recommendations”, Giegold said.

He also questioned whether France accepted the European Semester process. “President Hollande’s remarks regarding a ‘dictate from Brussels’ are a confession of failure of French European politics," Giegold said, referring to a remark by the French President, who said that the Commission could not dictate what France should do.

>> Read: France placed under EU reform scrutiny

“And Germany hasn’t done its homework either,” Giegold said, blasting the Commission for having “copied and pasted” last years’ recommendations for Germany.

Giegold insisted that the Commission had “absolutely no hard enforcing measures” to ensure the implementation of its recommendations on countries like Germany.  He also said that the Commission tried to avoid conflict with influential member states. 

The European Commission adopts its annual set of policy recommendations to EU member states in the Spring of each year.

The recommendations are based on a detailed assessment of the economic, employment and budgetary situation in each country and on the policy plans they have submitted. 

The presentation of the Country-Specific Recommendations is a key moment in the European Semester, the EU's calendar for economic policy coordination. It begins each year with the Annual Growth Survey, which sets out general economic policy guidelines for the EU as a whole.

The recommendations will be endorsed by the European Council in June and formally adopted by the Council in July.

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