Merkel’s successor responds to Macron’s Europe vision

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks during the 24th Political Ash Wednesday gathering of the CDU in Demmin, Germany, 6 March 2019. [Clemens Bilan/EPA/EFE]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s anointed successor outlined her vision for Europe, a German paper reported Saturday (9 March), aligning with recent French proposals on security but disagreeing on key social issues.

CDU party chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the likely future conservative candidate for the chancellery, sets out her vision in an article published in the Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

With eyes on future Chancellorship, CDU elects Kramp-Karrenbauer as new chair

Germany’s ruling CDU chose Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as its new chairperson to replace Angela Merkel on Friday (7 December), in a move that raised some doubts about which path the country’s biggest party aims to take to stave off challenges from the left and the right. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Her response to recent proposals from French President Emmanuel Macron includes a call for a banking common market and a pan-European climate pact.

“Our Europe must become stronger” said the politician often known simply as AKK, as European figures grapple with rising protectionist and nationalist forces.

Her comments came after Macron set out his ideas for Europe’s future, in an opinion piece published by several top European newspapers last week.

Macron makes EU-wide appeal 'for European renewal'

French President Emmanuel Macron made an appeal to all Europeans on Monday (4 March) to re-launch the EU project by holding a conference “without taboos” before year’s end that could possibly lead to a new treaty.

He called for reform of its passport-free Schengen area and the creation of a new agency “for the protection of democracies” against cyber-attacks and fake news.

Macron also renewed his argument for greater security cooperation and stressed the need for a common asylum policy to deal with the migrant crisis.

“Never since the Second World War has Europe been so necessary. And yet never has Europe been in such a danger,” Macron said, in what many see as the start of his campaign for May’s European Parliament elections.

AKK broadly aligned with the French leader on security, agreeing with his view that Europe should share a common border force.

She also called for a common, permanent seat for Europe on the United Nations Security Council, a long-standing demand of Germany, although France is keen to keep its seat.

While she advocated boosting prosperity in the bloc, she disagreed with Macron’s idea for a Europe-wide minimum salary. European centralism and the “Europeanisation of social services and the minimum wage would be the wrong way”, she argued.

Merkel has said she won’t run again when her current term ends in 2021, and some expect she won’t last that long if her unhappy left-right “grand coalition” implodes before then.

She has not issued a reaction to Macron’s comments, which were published on 4 March

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