Little time? There is a summary at the end of the text.
It will be nine months before the next European elections in May 2019 – and the Germans would go to one of the best jobs in the EU: the post of President of the Commission. Chancellor Angela Merkel plays with the idea, not at the European Central Bank (ECB), but at the European Commission, a German on the executive power to hoist. That at least reported the "Handelsblatt".
That would not be good news for Jens Weidmann. The ambitions of the head of the Bundesbank were always an open secret and Weidmann was the first candidate, if Germany were to apply for the vacant vacancy in the autumn of 2019 ECB main post. Although the Chancellor said Thursday in Tbilisi, no decision has been taken yet. But there are good arguments to lead the Commission instead of the ECB:
- Weidmann is controversial in the EUtoo much the economist has made a name for himself as a hawk, as a representative of a tight monetary policy. The extremely low interest rate that the ECB has been driving under its president Mario Draghi in recent years has always been a disaster for Weidmann. But mostly a large majority of the Southern European countries were against him, there were a few loyalists such as the Dutchman Klaas Knot. Weidmann only made a few friends in France. It would therefore be difficult for Merkel to force him as head of the ECB.
- The head of the committee is more important like that of the ECB, because the Germans at the central bank have considerable influence anyway because of the size of their economy. For the Commission this applies to a lesser extent: here it would be more important to appoint the president. In addition, Merkel would have the opportunity to install an ally or an ally at the head of the committee.
- Germany would turn again: The last Chairman of the Commission was Walter Hallstein – from 1958 to 1967. More than half a century later, Germany could "peacefully expect to fulfill the function of President of the Commission," said CDU MEP Elmar Brok.
There are currently three names: Peter Altmaier, Ursula von der Leyen and Manfred Weber. Minister of Economic Affairs Altmaier is considered one of Merkel's closest confidants. He also speaks because he worked for many years as an EU official in Brussels, manages several European languages and enjoys the reputation of being a convinced European.
Is the Leyen looking for a career jump to Brussels?
The same applies to Minister of Defense von der Leyen. She is also a Merkel companion who grew up in Brussels and is considered internationally experienced by her experience with NATO. Moreover, she would be the first woman at the head of the European Commission. Von der Leyen also has good personal reasons to move to Brussels: as a successor to Merkel she is out of the race and the Pannenladen Bundeswehr no longer sees her as a springboard.
Under these circumstances, a change in the EU would be of interest to the Minister, even if she had not presented it to the President of the Commission: even as a Commissioner to go to Brussels, the Niedersächsin could well imagine – especially as CDU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger re-compete after the European elections. But in the CDU she does not have enough troops to support a candidacy, even if the chancellor did. Moreover, Altmaier seems almost ready for the post. And if he would become President of the Commission, the German seat would be assigned to the Commission.
Weber lacks government experience – which can be an advantage
Then there is Manfred Weber, the powerful leader of the Christian Democratic EPP group in the European Parliament. He is the only member of the German trio who has so far shown his interest in the post of President of the Commission. The biggest disadvantage of the CSU man: he is a CSU man. Merkel's relationship with the CDU sister party is currently not the best, raising the question of why she should choose Weber over Altmaier or von der Leyen.
Another disadvantage for Weber is often mentioned in Brussels as the fact that the Bayer was not a minister or government leader. But that can also be an advantage – because Weber is a man of the European Parliament. And it must ultimately choose the candidates proposed by the EU countries.
A Member of the European Parliament who leads the European elections and is appointed by the European Parliament: Weber – unlike many former Commission chairmen – would not be tied to the Ruch, elected by the Heads of State and Government as one of their backroom deal. "When selecting the candidate you have to consider that he is a majority in parliament," says CDU politician Brok. This is considered safe at Weber.
Can a German Commission President be?
There is a problem, however, that Altmaier, of which Leyen and Weber have in common: they are Germans, and in the EU there is a sense of German domination for years.
This is partly because the Germans are not particularly under-represented in prominent EU jobs. Martin Selmayr, for example, is Secretary-General of the EU Commission, he is the right hand of Jean-Claude Juncker and is considered one of the most powerful men in Brussels. In the European Parliament the two largest groups are led by Germans: the head of the Christian Democrats is Weber, in the Social Democrats it is Udo Bullmann. Secretary General of Parliament is Klaus Welle; The European Stability Mechanism ESM is headed by Klaus Regling. In the Brexit negotiation team of the European Commission, Sabine Weyand is number two behind Michel Barnier.
Another reason is the fact that the Germans demand their influence, even if they are not in the executive chair – see ECB. A German application for the Presidency of the Commission would therefore offer another advantage: it would be better democratically legitimized than the head of the ECB. That could at least slightly alleviate the fear of the domination of the Germans.
In brief: Nine months before the European elections, speculation about the reorganization of the EU is gaining momentum. For Chancellor Angela Merkel there are good reasons to abandon the position of Head of the ECB for Jens Weidmann and instead campaign for a German Commission President. Potential candidates include Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier, Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen and Manfred Weber, EPP party leader in the European Parliament.