CDU Leader Denies German-French Tensions
Following her criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for a “European renaissance,” Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, denied any fallout between the two countries on March 9, the Guardian reports. Kramp- Karrenbauer’s written response, titled “Getting Europe Right,” reaffirmed many of Macron’s proposals regarding industrial policy and defense.
According to the New York Times, points of consensus included the call for continued coordinated European defense policy with the United Kingdom following Brexit and for the construction of a joint European aircraft carrier. Of the latter project, Ulrich Speck of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin commented that “AKK’s call for a joint European aircraft carrier signals her readiness to invest in joint European power projection.”
Most of Kramp-Karrenbauer’s agreements with Macron’s policies concerned security issues and increased European power. However, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s article harshly criticized Macron’s social policy proposals. A section of her piece reads, “the communitarisation of debts, the Europeanization of social systems, and the minimum wage would be the wrong approach.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer also issued two proposals which France has opposed in the past, increasing speculation of a rift between the two countries, the Guardian reports. The CDU leader suggested that the EU take a seat on the UN Security Council, which could rob France of its seat. She also proposed abolishing the European Parliament’s headquarters in Strasbourg, calling it an “anachronism.”
Despite disagreement over policy, both governments deny any tensions between them. The Guardian reports that Kramp-Karrenbauer told Welt, “There is no rift. The fact that the CDU has a different political view on the issue of redistribution, on the issue of completely uniform social standards... than the French is nothing new.”
The French seem to agree. According to the New York Times, a French government official maintained that the CDU and Kramp-Karrenbauer took issue with only three of the French government’s positions: the Security Council seat, the Strasbourg headquarters, and the European minimum wage.
Aside from underscoring the issues of Franco-German disagreement, “Getting Europe Right” intrigued Europe because of its author. While Kramp-Karrenbauer is the leader of the CDU, she does not have a post in the German government. According to the Guardian, the French media would have interpreted the article as a stronger statement if it had come from Chancellor Angela Merkel herself.
Despite the policy disagreements and Kramp-Karrenbauer’s authorship, the two visions “share much common ground.... What is at any rate clear is that a desire to advance the debate on Europe’s future has now been expressed, on both sides of the Rhine,” as reported by Le Monde.