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The Ambition Europe Needs

Whereas the Europe of the 1950s was desperate to ensure peace and freedom, underpinned by liberal democratic systems and values, the Europe of 2019 is electing nationalist and populist parties that are actively undermining that effort. This is not a status quo anyone – especially not Germany – should be defending.

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron recently launched his platform for the upcoming European Parliament elections. Official reactions to his approach – outlined in a commentary published simultaneously in every European Union country – were mostly positive, with even the Euroskeptic prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán and Liviu Dragnea of Romania, endorsing his agenda (for tactical reasons). But, in the chorus of approval, one notable voice was missing: Germany.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (known as AKK) – the Christian Democratic Union’s new leader and Angela Merkel’s likely successor as Germany’s chancellor – believes that Macron’s vision is overly ambitious and insufficiently pragmatic. Her response to his platform implicitly challenged France’s commitment to a more centralized Europe.

First, she advocated for the EU to have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council – a privilege that, in Europe, only France and the United Kingdom currently enjoy. Second, she emphasized the need to “abolish anachronisms,” including by having the European Parliament meet only in Brussels, rather that continuing to hold monthly sessions in Strasbourg.

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