Germany picks surprise commissioner

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Germany’s new centre-right coalition has made an unexpected choice of commissioner for the next EU executive, EURACTIV Germany reported on Saturday (24 October).

The conservative CDU politician Günther Oettinger will replace Günter Verheugen as Germany’s commissioner once the EU executive starts its new term, expected for 1 January 2010, Germany’s CDU-FDP coalition revealed on Saturday (24 October). 

Oettinger’s appointment was met with great surprise in German political circles. German press reports speak of a “disgraced politician”, set to be “dumped” in Brussels for being “a thorn” in the German chancellor’s side. 

Minister-president of Baden-Württemberg since 2005, Oettinger was reportedly told off by Chancellor Angela Merkel for excusing the Nazi past of the previous minister president, Hans Filbinger. Most recently he objected to Merkel’s budget plans. 

“The European Commission will become the dumping ground of a failed a minister-president that Merkel is trying to get rid of,” the German parliament’s socialist chief, Thomas Oppermann, told the Financial Times. 

Oettinger told the German press that he will be seeking the economic and monetary affairs portfolio, but that decision rests with the European institutions. 

The expected start date of the next Commission has been cast into doubt by the delayed ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, designed to streamline the workings of the European Union. 

The only outstanding signature is that of Czech President 
Václav
Klaus, who is seeking an opt-out in the treaty text (EURACTIV 23/10/09). 

Germany’s plans for the next Commission take up six pages of a 124-page policy paper by the ruling conservative-liberal coalition. 

The document speaks of closer ties with French and Polish partners and of a “special relationship” with Turkey. 

Merkel has been publicly against a fully-fledged Turkish membership and the carefully-worded document speaks of “linking Turkey to the EU” if the country does not meet the requirements for full membership. 

Recently Turkey’s chief negotiator, Egemen Bagi?, told EURACTIV that his country finds “insulting” the replacement of full EU membership with a “privileged partnership” as proposed by Paris and Berlin (EURACTIV 08/10/09). 

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