Has Merkel's speech in Strasbourg made waves?
Angela Merkel has spoken out in favour of the creation of a European army before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, endorsing a proposal made by Emmanuel Macron a few days ago. However, she did not support the French president on the issue of the Eurozone budget. Europe's commentators analyse how well Merkel did in what could be her last speech before the EU's top legislative body.
EU doomed to tread water
All those who had high hopes for Merkel's speech have been disappointed, Delo writes:
“Merkel was at least willing to go along with Macron's proposal for a European army. Nevertheless this project is far from bringing concrete solutions and more of a political vision - or a pipe dream. In any event there's no sign of the new European dynamic announced when the government was formed this year in Berlin. The results of the upcoming European elections will be a new excuse for the lack of any tangible changes. The European Union is doomed to tread water. With Merkel, or one day without her. Until it finally takes a sober view of reality.”
An army but no social policy
Merkel's speech lacked the punch it should have had, Deutschlandfunk concurs:
“Chancellor Merkel knows how to describe the status quo. And she can defend her arguments with tenacity. But one thing she's not good at is boosting enthusiasm for Europe - in her speech to the EU Parliament, at any rate, she wasted what was perhaps her last chance to do so. ... Showing enthusiasm for European ideas would also mean championing the qualities that make the EU what it is: high standards in human rights, economic and environmental policy. ... In her speech Merkel made no mention of social policy, instead waxing lyrical about a European army and joint weapons systems. It's hard to imagine that that will win back the hearts of those who have succumbed to the blight of right-wing populism.”
Merkel diverting attention from real problems
Merkel's call for the creation of a European army is just a diversionary tactic according to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
“The European army that Brussels and other capitals have been talking about for more than ten years is a fata morgana that reappears every time leaders want to divert attention from blockades, the lack of ideas and strife within the EU. The programme for deeper integration of the Eurozone with the goal of redistributing financial risks, which has been forcefully promoted by Macron since his election to president in spring 2017, has failed to advance. Faced with growing internal opposition, northern member states and Angela Merkel hit the brakes. The process of disciplining the Eastern and Central European member states regarding the rule of law and the fight against corruption is also stalling. And nor is there any sign of unity on migration policy.”
Chancellor must match words with deeds
How serious the chancellor really is about European defence will soon become apparent, Libération comments:
“On Tuesday in Strasbourg, Angela Merkel argued for the swift creation of a 'European army', 'to complement Nato'. She will soon have the opportunity to demonstrate that her words are more than hot air. By the end of the year Germany will have to renew its fleet of fighter jets. Will it opt for a European manufacturer, unlike the Belgians, who've just purchased American F35s?”