Merkel departure would have ‘major impact’ on EU says Butikofer
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The former European Commission President said Mrs Merkel is partly to blame for the lack of cooperation between EU member states at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Luxembourgish politician told French daily Le Soir that Mrs Merkel rejected the idea of extending European competences on common health policies.
In a stern attack on the outgoing German leader, Mr Juncker also claimed Mrs Merkel did not save the EU, contrary to the German rhetoric.
He said: “As she is a scientist, she always asked the right questions and provided answers that were first piecemeal, then complete, but she was not alone in the camp of those who saved Greece.
“She saved Greece? Yes, because she did not say no to the Greek rescue program.
“Did it cost us a lot of time? Yes, because she had to overcome serious difficulties within the CDU / CSU parliamentary group as well as a real rebellion among the general public in Germany.”
He continued: “Given the scale of the pandemic crisis, she saw that national solos did not have to be.
“At the start of the pandemic, each Member State reacted in an exclusively national context for the wrong reason that the European Union and the Commission did not have the instruments to react to it.
“But in 2003 and 2004, at the time of the Giscardian convention, she was among those who rejected the idea of enlightened minds like mine who wanted to extend European competences to the health and health field.
“Those who opposed it felt that the Commission had too much power and that these health areas should be limited to the national context.
“On the pandemic, she reacted well.
“If she had not said yes to the 750 billion plan, it would not have seen the light of day. Did she have another choice? No.
“She resigned herself to playing the full European card, which she refused for a long time during the Greek crisis.”
The German leader will leave national politics in September after 16 years in charge of the EU’s largest economy.
Her party, the CDU, is increasingly running the risk to lose the top seat in the country, according to latest polls.
Germany’s Social Democrats have gained more ground on Angela Merkel’s conservatives ahead of September’s federal election, two opinion polls showed on Wednesday, but they would still need to team up with two other parties to be able to govern.
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The latest Forsa poll for RTL television put support for the Social Democrats (SPD) at 19 percent, up 3 points since last week and the best result for the centre-left party since 2018. The SPD is currently junior coalition partner to Mrs Merkel’s conservatives.
Support for the conservatives slipped 3 points to 23 percent, the Greens were steady on 20 percent and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) fell a point to 12 percent.
The second poll, from Kantar for Focus magazine, put the SPD at 19 percent, up one point, and the centre-right CDU/CSU bloc at only 22 percent, down two points. The Greens were down one point at 21 percent.
With the statistical margin of error given by Kantar of around 3 percentage points, the survey means that all three parties are roughly neck and neck.
The new polls mean that the only possible coalitions would need three parties to work together rather than the current two, potentially making negotiations more protracted.
In a hypothetical direct vote for chancellor, the SPD’s candidate Olaf Scholz saw his support in the Forsa poll jump 5 points to 26 percent, while Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Mrs Merkel as chancellor, slipped 3 points to just 12 percent.
Mr Laschet has suffered a slump in support after he was seen laughing on a visit to a flood-stricken town.
That has prompted some critics to suggest Mr Laschet should renounce his candidacy in favour of Markus Soeder, leader of the Bavarian sister party of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who the Forsa poll showed would win 40 percent of support in a direct vote.
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