On Sunday night, German party leaders locked horns in a television debate to win voters over ahead of the federal election to replace Angela Merkel. Of the many topics touched upon by the main contenders in the election, Armin Laschet (CDU), Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Annalena Baerbock (Greens), the country’s future in the EU failed to make it on the agenda.
Their electoral campaigns also lack either a europhile or eurosceptic stance, as they continue to tour the country ahead of the September 26 vote.
EU expert Wolfgang Munchau noted: “Interesting, or depressing, that none of the candidates in the German elections have campaigned on EU themes.
“It means they won’t have a mandate to support big reforms.”
Echoing the Eurointelligence Director, Italian MEP Marco Zanni also added: “We should also ask ourselves the reason for this trend … now even Macron no longer believes in it.”
In France, people will head to the polls next spring but electoral campaigns are already in full swing.
The only candidate hoping to replace President Macron who dared speaking about the EU was the one people least expected it from.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, proposed a referendum on French law supremacy over EU courts’ decisions.
Speaking at a debate with right-wing parties for the party primaries in the city of Nîmes to mark the start of the new parliamentary year, Mr Barnier also called for “rebuilding French influence” in the face of Germany’s “domination” in the EU.
The French Presidential candidate explained that regaining national sovereignty from EU courts would allow France to decide on its own immigration law.
The move even shocked far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, despite her long-standing eurosceptic views.
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She said: “When I hear Mr Barnier come and talk to us about immigration, given his contribution to the disappearance of our independence and our sovereignty I must admit that my arms fall off.”
In Sunday’s German debate, Laschet pressed Scholz on whether he would form an alliance with the Greens and the far-left Linke, which opposes NATO and is critical of many aspects of the EU.
Scholz declined to rule out working with the Linke, arguing first that voters must have their say in the election.
However, he made clear that there were clear differences between the parties which would make a coalition very difficult.
“An acknowledgement of transatlantic relations, NATO and the European Union are necessary for a good government,” he said.
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President Macron today was accused of “kneeling in front of the EU” and trying to avoid a clash with Brussels on the eve of the French presidency of the EU.
“With less than four months of its presidency of the European Union (PFUE), France finds itself in a delicate position,” French daily L’Opinion wrote.
They added: “The Elysee and the Ministry of the Armed Forces are banking on this semester to advance European defence, but three concrete issues complicate the matter: the working time of the military, the financing of the armaments industries and operations in Mali.”
Reacting to the comments, Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois said: “As usual, France is kneeling in front of the EU!
“Even when it comes to the basis of sovereignty, namely our armies!
“The EU is a drag in all matters!”