“Do you want to know which party best defends your vision of the future of the European Union?” It’s this way ! “ As the federal elections of September 26 approach in Germany, “Euromat” is establishing itself as an innovative online tool for understanding the positions of the various parties in contention on Europe. It suffices to pronounce on twenty questions related to the future of the European Union, and an artificial intelligence reveals the party whose program fits best with the answers given.
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Throughout the campaign, the candidates for the chancellery – the ecologist Annalena Baerbock (Alliance 90 / Les Verts), the social democrat Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the Christian democrat Armin Laschet (CDU / CSU) – nevertheless carefully avoided the theme of Europe, considered too weak.
This silence will probably not help them replace an Angela Merkel whose popularity rates on the continent would make more than one contender for power green with envy: 77% in the Netherlands, 75% in France and Belgium, and even 49% in Italy, despite the liability related to the settlement of the debt crisis (1).
For now, talking about the EU does not pay off. “Voters are more interested in the price of rents or energy in Germany”, says Dominik Grillmayer, from the Franco-German Institute in Ludwigsburg. “It is a shame because it is certainly a question of electing a new national Parliament, but also of composing a future government which will have its say in Europe”, recalls German Secretary of State for European Affairs Michael Roth (SPD).
More or less substantiated programs
To delve into the programs, no party overlooks the issue. With all the same 16 pages (out of 140) devoted to major European projects (fight against climate change, digital transition, reform of common budgetary rules, etc.), Angela Merkel’s party, the CDU / CSU, even holds the top of the pavement. The SDP devotes a dozen pages to it. At the bottom of the list, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party details its aversion to the European project on two pages.
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“Apart from the extremes, on the right and on the left, all parties in the race are pro-European. It is a raison d’être for them to be part of the EU. Membership of the EU goes without saying. But the visions of what Europe should be and what it should do diverge greatly ”, note Sophie Pornschlegel, analyste au think tank European Policy Centre.
In detail, the CDU / CSU has made the return into force of the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, suspended until 2023 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its hobbyhorse. The SPD would like a more “social” Europe, notably with fair minimum wages everywhere. As for environmentalists, they are of course calling for a Europe that redoubles its efforts to achieve climate neutrality as quickly as possible.
Paris awaits Berlin
The direction in which Germany intends to take Europe in the coming years is therefore not yet perceptible. It will become so when a coalition contract is concluded and leads to the appointment of a government. “The parties will embark on a game of three-cushion billiards, where each party will defend their priorities while releasing ballast on others”, says political scientist Dominik Grillmayer.
France, for its part, hopes that the negotiations will not last too long: Paris wants to count on a stable and cooperative German partner during its presidency of the Council of the EU, between January and July 2022. “The Franco-German relationship will remain, whatever happens, strong and driving”, predicts Secretary of State Michael Roth.
But while France and Italy plan to sign a treaty in the fall to seal their friendship, Berlin is out of the question. The future German government could thus rely on a Paris-Berlin-Rome-Madrid “quartet” to shape the future of Europe.