European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker has in the past publicly backed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for re-election in September. But neither were willing to discuss a “private” meeting on Wednesday (30 August). EURACTIV Germany reports.
At their meeting in Berlin, matters were “classified as private” and a press briefing was not put on the agenda.
In the lead up to their meeting, Merkel said that she will push for a further extension of internal border controls, particularly on the Austrian border. The alpine republic supports this measure but Merkel also needs the Commission on side to get what she wants.
While Juncker did not comment on the Merkel meet-up, his migration chief, Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, said on Wednesday that the safety of Europeans should be a priority, suggesting that the Schengen area’s rules should be adapted to the current situation.
Stripping Poland of its European Council voting rights may also have featured on the meeting’s agenda.
Merkel’s position on Poland was clear to see on Tuesday (29 August), where she said at a press conference that “we cannot simply hold our tongues and not say anything for the sake of peace and quiet” when questioned about the ongoing Warsaw-Brussels rift.
She added at the Berlin press conference that “this is a serious issue because the requirements for cooperation within the EU are the principles of the rule of law”.
The ongoing Brexit talks, the third round of which is scheduled to end on Thursday (31 August), are also likely to have come up in their meeting. Juncker has this week made it clear that he finds the UK’s efforts to be “unsatisfactory”.
Merkel has maintained a more moderate tone, as she knows the EU needs a good relationship with the UK after March 2019, but she has also repeatedly called for London to make progress as quick as possible.
Merkel and Juncker’s meeting may have had no official status but it will undoubtedly have a tangible decisive impact, especially given the incumbent German leader’s iron grip on the polls and her re-election looking extremely likely.