CDU rejects SPD federal Europe vision
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has rejected the concept of a “United States of Europe” put forward by the Social Democrat Party (SPD) amid ongoing coalition talks.
SPD leader Martin Schulz on Thursday called for a United States of Europe by 2025.
“We don’t have to govern at any price, but we also can’t reject governing at any price,” Schulz told delegates at his party’s conference on Thursday.
“What matters is what we are able to implement,” said Schulz, who was re-elected as party leader with 81 per cent of the vote.
Discussions on maintaining the CDU-SPD “grand” coalition, which governed from 2005 to 2009 and since 2013, are due to start on Wednesday but with European policy a key obstacle to be overcome.
The SPD will also be demanding action on health care, European policy, affordable housing and increased spending on social welfare programmes for seniors.
Both parties are keen to avoid another election. On September 24, the SPD share fell by 5 percentage points, a performance for which Shultz apologised in his conference speech. The CDU lost even more support — 7 percentage points — but remained the largest party.
Senior CDU member Volker Kauder said Schulz’s proposal posed “a danger to the EU and citizens’ approval of Europe” and Peter Altmaier, Merkel’s chancellery chief, said the idea and target date were unrealistic.
An Emnid poll for Bild suggested around 30 per cent of Germans supported Schulz’s proposal while 48 per cent rejected it.
Kauder told Tagesspiegel that the EU needed strengthening but people also longed for the “reliability that they believe they can find in national states”.
He told the newspaper: “The proposal would also jeopardise the work of unification that is unique in the history of the world because the majority of member states certainly wouldn’t participate in creating a united states.”
Altmaier told the Rheinische Post that it would be better to address problems such as unemployment, protection of external borders and streamlining economic policy.
“The discussion about whether Europe should be a federal state, confederation or a united states is one for academics and journalists – not for German foreign policy,” Altmaier said.
“A United States of Europe would transfer member states’ sovereignty to Brussels and there would not be a majority for that in many EU states,” he told the newspaper.
SPD leader Martin Schulz. Picture credit: Flickr