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Rainer Wieland and Evelyne Gebhardt help Emmanuel Macron to prepare his speech to the European Parliament

I attended yesterday the event organized by the European House in Berlin on the 2019 European elections. Evelyne Gebhardt and Rainer Wieland were invited, both of them being Vice President of the European Parliament (EP), the first belonging to the SPD, the second to the CDU.

The event was well attended, approx. 100 people were there.

Mr Wieland had few interesting remarks on:

  • the participation rate to the European elections, which he wishes to be higher but which should not become an obsession or a reason to challenge the legitimacy of the EP. Mr Wieland underlined that many of the municipalities in Germany are elected with even lower participation rates;
  • the 7 year-budget process in the EP, which deprives future EP and Commissions on any say on the budget framework in which they will have to work. Mr Wieland also criticized the chaotic aspect of the budget preparation, where each country fights for its selfish interests, far from any real European consideration.

However I could not follow him on his remarks on the transnational list, which are in his opinion more an objective to be reached in the future than a start for today.

But where I was quite shocked is about his attacks against France and Emmanuel Macron:

  • listening to him France would be a revolutionary and imprevisible state,
  • ‘’let us see how long Macron can keep his energy’’,
  • solidarity in Europe is transfer union,
  • France has no army his President has (‘’France has a presidential army’’)
  • The issue with Emmanuel Macron is not only an issue of money (with an explicit reference to the cover page of the Spiegel ‘’our expensive friend’’) but an issue on ideas.
  • The moderator asked the excellent following question (…and which was not mine!…), we see French people participating in Berlin to the Grande Marche pour l’Europe and asking to the people what do they think about Europe, is it a for you a chance or competition? The answer was a bit surrealistic, Emmanuel Macron would be looking for his way in Europe and would have a dilemma, if he would not join any political family in the EP he would be like Mrs May, i.e. out of Europe. He would want to participate to the debate but would have no family. In any case he would not be able to change the political system in Europe, he would have the problem that he would think that he was elected by 70% of the French people, but which would not be true and would reflect a strange conception of democracy. Then after Mr Wieland the solution to Mr Macron’s problems would not be in Europe but in France…

Well… Then very interesting to take note of this clear opposition line, if not contemptuous one, from the EPP Vice-President of the European Parliament in the frame of a public event in the representation office of the European Parliament in Berlin…

Mrs Gebhardt, on her side, did not defend any controversial position against a country where she is born. However on a topic which was not discussed afterwards, and in a very short sentence, she quite unfairly presented the position of Macron on the Spitzenkandidaten. She said Macron was against this procedure and this would not contribute to bring transparency. Which is a bit short to present the position of the French President who is saying that the current system is too brutal when giving automatically the presidency of the Commission to the first party winning the EP elections, even if this party is in a minority in the EP. Then the French President suggested that after the elections the EP decides if there is a room for a coalition of some parties, which would build a majority in the EP, and designates its Spitzenkandidat, which would then become the representative of a true majority in the EP. A bit more democratic, isn’t it?

But well, this event was extremely interesting to understand the fears and misunderstandings, which exist currently in Germany on the French positions on Europe. It should encourage all the defenders of the European re-foundation to forget any European beatitude and be extremely clear and pedagogical on their agenda.

An excellent preparation for the speech that Emmanuel Macron should deliver to the European Parliament on April 17…

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  1. Knowing Laurent Couraudon (who by the way has a German mother and is fluently bilingual) I have no doubt that he fully understood the German politicians’ statements. I share his disappointment and fail to understand how a high ranking representative of Konrad Adenauer’s Party is simplyfying and misinterpreting President Macron’s forward reaching ideas using anti-European slogans which we know from populist quarters. Mr. Wieland is fully aware of the European values and the EU as the base of peace and our socio-economic stability, in the case of Germany extraordinary wealth. This does not mean that we have to accept all proposals submitted by Macron at face value. In the past our governments differed substantially at the beginning of discussions on future steps in our common efforts to deepen European integration and still achieved convincing compromises. It does not help our common interests and the future of the EU to distort facts and to play into the hands of populists and scepticists who in many cases seem to lack understanding and empathy for Europe.