Merkel and the EU summit: With sham packages to success

Whether the fight against climate change, the corona crisis or the rule of law: The agreement at the Brussels summit is a rather tired compromise.

At the end of her EU Council Presidency: Angela Merkel’s balance sheet is, to put it cautiously, mixed Photo: dpa

It was a long night in Brussels. The 27 heads of state and government have negotiated by dawn on Friday. Now there is agreement on a more stringent climate target. The EU wants to reduce its greenhouse gases by at least 55 percent by 2030. All’s well that ends well?

Yes, say Chancellor Angela Merkel and Council President Charles Michel. You directed the last top meeting under the German chairmanship. And they see themselves at their destination. Europe remains a pioneer in climate protection, said Michel. In addition, the “historic” financial package was saved.

One would love to applaud. Neither was foreseeable a year ago. At that time the EU was still planning to introduce its CO2– Reduce emissions by only 40 percent. And it was unthinkable that the EU would take on 750 billion euros in debt to launch a corona aid program.

But so far these pioneering decisions have only been made on paper. Merkel has made so many lazy compromises when setting the course that one is tempted to doubt the substance of her European policy. The successes could all too quickly turn out to be sham successes.

This is particularly clear with the agreement on the EU budget and the Corona aid package. Merkel bought the deal with a sham in the so-called rule of law mechanism. Hungary and Poland can now further dismantle the rule of law and undermine democracy without having to fear cuts in EU aid.

The new mechanism will only take effect in 2022 and then only be able to punish corruption. There is nothing left of the great promise made at the beginning of the German EU presidency to grab those who disdain the rule of law by their wallets and cut subsidies.

Even the “historical” financial package is not so great on closer inspection. The EU budget for 2021–2027 has shrunk, the Corona aid fund will take effect in summer 2021 at the earliest. It does not help against the consequences of the current “second wave” – which is why the European Central Bank felt compelled on Thursday to launch a new emergency program to support the economy.

And what about the climate? Isn’t the EU making brave progress? No, say Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement. They shout “treason” because, while Europeans are constantly announcing new goals, they don’t take any action to achieve them.

The European Parliament is also disappointed. The now decided reduction in CO2-Emissions of 55 net percent are not enough to achieve the Paris climate targets, criticize the MPs. They too suspect a sham because the EU can only achieve its new goal with various computing tricks and expensive concessions to the coal and nuclear energy countries.

But at least: The 27 have agreed on a new goal – and the new EU budget should help to get closer to this goal. Merkel managed to keep the business together, which was certainly not easy in view of the many egoists. It’s a success. It’s just a shame that it was bought with a lot of cheating.


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