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In a new briefing, Open Europe's Leopold Traugott assesses the prospects for wide-reaching EU and Eurozone reform led by Paris and Berlin. While it is increasingly unlikely that Franco-German cooperation will live up to the expectations that have developed since Macron’s election in June last year, progress is possible in a number of key areas.
12 April 2018
Open Europe has today published a new briefing, ‘The rocky road ahead for the Franco-German reform drive.”
The briefing argues that it is increasingly unlikely that Franco-German cooperation on EU reform will live up to the high expectations that have developed since Macron’s election in June last year. Part of this is due to the lack of a coherent German response to the proposals delivered by France. But smaller states have also grouped together in opposition to a new integrationist push led by the Franco-German duo – the so called Franco-German motor. Continued political instability in other parts of the EU, such as Italy, signals further stumbling blocks.
While there are few easy wins up for grabs, progress on a couple of key reforms remains likely. This briefing maps them out in detail. Where have Paris and Berlin found common positions, which proposals are backed by a majority of member states, and what reforms are off the table already?
“Despite the pro-European rhetoric struck by Germany’s new government, its traditional EU reform red lines on key issues such as debt mutualisation haven’t moved much. Berlin wants and needs to work with Paris to get reforms going, but so far seems unwilling to commit to the compromises necessary to achieve much of this.”
“Many of Macron’s most colourful ideas, such as installing a Eurozone finance minister or creating transnational lists for the European Parliament, are basically dead in the water. Berlin and other Nordic member states want to focus on bread-and-butter reforms instead, steps that are easy to implement and offer concrete benefits. At the same time, Macron is now looking at European defence cooperation outside of the EU and its PESCO framework.”
“Macron has presented a coherent vision for Europe’s future, and laid bare the vacuum that currently exists in German political thinking. If Germany cannot reach a compromise with the most pro-European French President in decades, then with whom could it? If Macron fails, Euroscepticism in France and across Europe will only grow stronger.”