Brexit: Germany and France will 'come around' says expert
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German economic sociologist and emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Wolfgang Streeck, warned the EU is increasingly looking like a bloc of states run by Germany.
In an interview with Noemi Lehoczki, author at the Hungarian left-wing news site Mérce, Mr Streeck said that an “empire” run by Germany could only result in “perennial tensions” between member states and the eventual collapse of the bloc.
Instead, he claimed, the EU should look into dissolving into cooperation of sovereign states following the model of the Nordic Council.
He said: “If the EU continued to develop the way it did since the 1990s and until the financial crisis, it would result in Germany, with or without France, governing the rest of the member states through the Brussels bureaucracy.
“In fact, one reason why I am against the kind of European Union that has been shaping up for the past two decades is that Germany would inevitably be its hegemony, more or less hidden behind a deeply asymmetrical alliance with France.
“A German European empire lacks both historical legitimacy and the resources needed to compensate dependent peripheral countries for accepting German rule.
“The result would be perennial tensions between Germany and the rest of Europe, as well as inside Germany over the price to pay for empire.
“I want Germany to live in peace with its neighbours, on the model perhaps of the Scandinavian alliance of democracies that have long been cooperating in the Nordic Council without needing a hegemonic state to discipline them.”
Mr Streeck also warned Angela Merkel’s departure from German politics could see a catastrophic domino effect for the entire European Union soon.
The German Chancellor will step down in September this year after 16 years of power.
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The pandemic has seen support in her party plummet in the last 13 months or so, leaving her potential successor Armin Laschet struggling to convince party members to convincingly see him as the next German Chancellor.
Mr Streeck said the geopolitics of the EU “empire” will very much depend on Germany’s success
Asked whether post-Merkel Germany will remain a “stable” country, he said: “The question is what you mean by stability. Will the CDU remain the biggest party? This is likely.
“Remember what I said about Germany being the prosperity pole of the EU.
“As long as the euro beefs up the German economy, the CDU will rule, from next year on very likely with the Greens. While throwing off the SPD may create an impression of change, policies will by and large be the same, a little more climate protection perhaps and the like.
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“Rhetoric aside, the Greens will not demand changes in European and foreign policy; they will tacitly support increased military spending in honour of Joe Biden; and they will insist on refugees being treated as a European affair, not a German one, which they hope will keep the AfD small.
“Countries like Hungary and Poland may come under more pressure than today for their family and immigration policies, but the CDU/CSU will do its best that this won’t undermine German influence in Eastern Europe or drive Eastern European countries into the arms of Putin.
“All of this may be different in a major economic crisis, perhaps caused by American decline or the next virus appearing on the scene.
“And, of course, tensions inside the EU are not to be discounted.
“Salvini may return, Macron may be followed by Le Pen etc. At some point, the compensation payments Germany will have to make to other member countries may simply become so high that raising the money will cause major domestic conflicts.
“Then all bets may be off, also because the AfD may return in a politically more sophisticated version.
“German hegemony in the European Union was and is to a large extent built on promises on which Germany or the EU, largely run by Germany, will not be able to deliver, like for example a Europe-wide allocation of migrants by fixed national quotas, or permanent transfer payments to the Mediterranean countries.”
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