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Breaking: Merkel endorses Juncker!

by DoDo Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 08:25:01 AM EST

A candidate diary!!!

Ever since Sarkozy pushed Blair as candidate for President of the European Council, and ever since much of the media began to treat what is de-facto like a president of a senate post as if it were the President of Europe, much speculation centres on the question of whom German Chancellor Angela Merkel would approve or endorse.

Being both politically savvy and cautious from largest EU member state position, Merkel of course won't say anything explicitely. But just yesterday [Tuesday, 19 February], she held a laudation for Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker at an award ceremony, that has every appearance of a strong indirect endorsement.

You read it here first. I haven't yet found an analysis in the MSM. Update [2008-2-21 8:25:1 by DoDo]: But now it is mentioned, see comments.


When I happened to look at the Wikipedia article on the President of the European Council a week ago (which moved me to re-edit it), I found a curious line referenced to an Independent article, here is the original:

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, may come under domestic pressure to back a rival candidate but is thought likely to rally behind M. Sarkozy.

The article quite obviously channels spin from Bliar's surrogates, the journalist didn't bother to ask around diplomats of other countries (didn't expect this from the Independent). In contrast, German media treats it as truism that Merkel dislikes Bliar and favours Juncker. But with Merkel keeping mum, there were not many public words to divine from. Until now.

The Deutscher Staatsbürgerpreis (c. 'German Citizenship Medal of Honor') is issued by a private foundation (Staatsbürgerliche Stiftung Bad Harzburg e. V.), which has a heavy presence of former holders of ceremonial posts. Merkel is the first acting chancellor to hold a laudation, a message in itself.

Her speech (full transscript) is a long, detailed and personal praise for Juncker, focused on his feats as negotiator at the European level. But I won't quote any of that, only six shorter excerpts where I read stuff between the lines, with ever stronger tendency, most importantly the last.

The first is from Merkel's intro:

Ich will ganz deutlich sagen: Enthüllungen sind nicht zu erwarten. Indiskretionen sind sowieso nicht die Art von Staats- und Regierungschefs der Europäischen Union. Lieber Jean-Claude, das eint uns, selbst bei allen Unterschieden. Aus dem Ecofin-Rat könnte ich sowieso nichts berichten. Dazu kann nur der französische Präsident etwas sagen. Ich bin auch gar nicht scharf darauf, daraus jemals berichten zu können, denn ich glaube, dass er bei den Finanzministern in guter Hand ist. Ich hoffe, Jean-Claude, dich erfüllt diese Bemerkung mit großer Freude.I want to say it emphatically: do not expect disclosures. Indiscretions aren't in style for heads of states and governments in the European Union anyway. Dear Jean-Claude, this unites us, even in all our differences. I can't report anything from the Ecofin Council [Council of Europe's finance ministers] anyway. Only the French President could say something about that. Also, I don't fancy ever reporting from that at all, because I think it is in the right hands with the finance ministers. I hope, Jean Claude, that this remark fills you with joy.

There is a careful broadside at Sarkozy (who was on the Ecofin for some time, but more notably, once President, went before it to criticise the ECB and propose political intervention on exchange rates; something anathema to mainstream German thinking on central banks). There is a subtle joke at Juncker (who is PM and finance minister in one person). But the emphasis on "indiscretions" may mean two more things: (1) another swipe at Sarko, (2) no explicit declarations (like Sarko for Bliar).

Er ist ein Glücksfall für Europa. Als deutsche Regierungschefin sage ich: Er ist auch ein Glücksfall für Deutschland.He [Juncker] is a stroke of luck for Europe. As German government head, I say: he is also a stroke of luck for Germany.

I think no comment is needed.

Du hast [...] in einer schwierigen Zeit, nämlich nach der Ablehnung des Verfassungsvertrages in Frankreich - wir erinnern uns -, ein Referendum in deinem Lande abgehalten und hast gezeigt: Wenn ich über Europa vernünftig rede, positiv rede und trotzdem die Schwierigkeiten nicht unter den Tisch kehre, dann kann ich auch die Menschen dazu bringen, ein positives Votum für dieses Europa abzugeben. Das war damals eine ganz wichtige Demonstration, als viele andere sagten: Für Europa lockst du sowieso keinen mehr hinterm Ofen hervor.In a difficult time, namely after the rejection of the Constitution in France - we remember - you have held a referendum in your own country, and you showed: if I talk about Europe reasonably, talk positively yet don't sweep the difficulties under the rug, then I can move the people, too, to submit a positive vote for this Europe. Back then, this was a very important demonstration, at a time when many said: you can't get anyone excited about Europe anyway [untranslateable idiom in the original].

Guess who was NOT bold to face a referendum the same way.

Lieber Jean-Claude, wir haben nun unsere Europaflagge zwar weiter in unseren Büros und summen weiter gerne die Melodie der Europahymne, aber wir haben auch die Kröte geschluckt - wenn ich das so lax sagen darf -, dass wir sie trotzdem im Vertrag nicht erwähnt haben. Beides ist in unserem täglichen Leben präsent, aber wir müssen warten, bis es irgendwann auch auf Papier geschrieben werden darf.Dear Jean-Claude, though we still have our Flag of Europe in our offices and still like to hum the melody of the European anthem, we swallowed the toad - if I can say it at such a lax way - that we don't mention it in the Treaty. Both are present in our daily life, but we must wait until as time when they can also be written on paper.

Guess which referendum-fearing head of government lobbied for their exclusion.

Auch der Erfolg unserer deutschen Ratspräsidentschaft wäre ohne sein Mittun nicht möglich gewesen. Dies gilt auch für die Tatsache, dass wir die finanzielle Vorausschau für die jetzige Periode hinbekommen, nachdem man Jean-Claude Juncker in seiner eigenen Präsidentschaft - das muss ich sagen, auch wenn ich nicht dabei war - zum Teil wirklich nicht ganz ordentlich behandelt hat.The success of our German Council Presidency would not have been possible without his helping out. This also applies to the fact that we succeed with the financial preview for this period, all that after - and I must say that, though I wasn't there - during his own Council Presidency, Jean-Claude Juncker was in part treated truly not in the right way.

This is a quite open reference to the European Council's failure to get an agreement on the EU's next seven-year financial plan three years ago -- a failure primarily owed to the stubbornness of a certain British prime minister.

And, finally -- the last two paragraphs, but it's the last two sentences that really matter:

Du hast dich um Europa verdient gemacht. Nicht ohne Grund bist du meines Wissens der einzige Mensch, der den Karlspreis zweimal erhalten hat, und zwar im Jahr 1986 als einer von den vielen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern Luxemburgs und im Jahr 2006 als luxemburgischer Regierungschef.You [informal] distinguished yourself for Europe. It is not without reason that, as far as I know, you are the only man to receive the Charlemagne Prize twice, namely in 1986 as one of Luxembourgs many citizens, and in 2006 as Luxembourg PM.
Insofern hat du dich selbst richtigerweise als einen "gesunden Optimisten" bezeichnet. Das ist vielleicht eines der Geheimnisse deines Erfolgs. Ich darf dir sagen, dass dein Optimismus oft ansteckend wirkt. Neben dem herzlichen Glückwunsch zu dem gleich zu verleihenden Preis und dem Glückwunsch an diejenigen, die entschieden haben, diesen Preis Jean-Claude Juncker zu verleihen, möchte ich sagen: Stecke uns weiter an mit deinem Optimismus. Wir brauchen dich.In this respect, you described yourself correctly as a "healthy optimist". Maybe that's one of the secrets of your success. May I be allowed to tell you that your optimism is contagious. Beyond the congratulations for the award you'll receive in a moment, and the good wishes to those who have decided to grant this prize to Jean-Claude Juncker, I want to say: go on infecting us with your optimism. We need you.

Don't retire, we need you, she sez.

To conclude, Merkel chose to mention a number of episodes in European matters which all put the 'other leading candidate' in a bad light, and ended by talking not about the past, but a plea for the future. I don't think she could make her choice any more clear without going explicit.

Display:
Sorry for the MSM-style title...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 05:51:06 PM EST
For the record:

  1. I don't like the President of the European Council post as currently set up. I'd prefer either a return to the old system (as one way to make citizens feel the EU "theirs") or a clearly chairman-of-the-upper-house framingof the post, WITHOUT a representative job.

  2. Since the job as the Treaty ofLisbon frames it is what we have to live with, I have to think about candidates. I would like to see a Finnish candidate or the former Slovenian President on the job, but no one brought them into play.

  3. Of the two names quote most often, I'd choose Juncker over Bliar in a heartbeat.

  4. Paradox upon paradox: politics is about perceptions, and Merkel is powerful because she is considered to be powerful. And while Merkel also holds back from explicit statements to not give a perception of a major state dictating, onee of its effets will just be that many fellow heads of government will be/are waiting for her choice to align accordingly.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 06:47:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Junckaboom!  Junckerama!  Junckmentum!

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 10:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great analysis DoDo.  You wouldn't be interested in the job yourself, now would you, given your gift of the gab! (hic - says he after a glass of wine too many...)

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 06:43:39 PM EST
I'm not sure I understand your comment.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 07:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... with the job of Council President. Y'all certainly want someone better than a war criminal for the post, but who'd want put a friend up for that?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 11:04:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't think I can railroad 'em all into agreement with me? ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 11:23:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... but then instead of your blogging, all we'd have is an integrated network of HSR routes spanning the EU.

And what in the hell good would that do to me? I'm going to get back to Oz before I get to Europe.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 05:44:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EuroTrib - always with 1st breaking commentary! So, how do we spread this meme?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 05:44:44 AM EST
Today in the Financial Times Deutschland, there is an article on our Stop Blair! campaign, titled "Poodle Under Fire". (The author didn't bother to follow the link to ET and as us who we are, and wonders what kind of secret illuminati we are: "Who is behind the campaign is as yet unclear.")

The article also writes that Juncker is now the prime candidate, and mentions Merkel's laudatio as implicit endorsement -- the MSM follows me!

[Zitate aus der Stoppt Blair! Petition] [Quotes from the Stop Blair! petition]
In den Regierungszentralen Deutschlands, Spaniens, Italiens und der Benelux-Staaten argumentiert man ganz ähnlich. Diese Staaten werben hinter den Kulissen für Jean-Claude Juncker. Der würde nach über 13 Jahren als Premier Luxemburgs das Amt Beobachtern zufolge gern übernehmen. Kanzlerin Angela Merkel stellte sich in einer Laudatio am Dienstag erkennbar hinter "den großen Europäer" Juncker, hob ihn aber nicht offiziell aufs Schild. Auch Spaniens sozialistischer Premier José Luis Zapatero will lieber für den Christdemokraten Juncker stimmen, als seinen Parteifreund Blair zu wählen - er verzeiht ihm den Irakkrieg nicht. People argue the same way in the government centres of Germany, Spain, Italy and the BeNeLux states. Behind the scenes, these states promote Jean-Claude Juncker. According to observers, after 13 years as PM of Luxembourg, he would love to take the job. In a laudation on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel visibly rallied behind "the great European" Juncker, but make him her candidate officially [<-untranslateable figure of speech in original]. Spain's Socialist PM José Luis Zapatero, too, would rather vote for the Christian Democrat Juncker, instead of electing his comrade Blair - he doesn't forgive him the Iraq War [and what about his support for Aznar?].
Das Rennen um Europas Topjob ist aber noch völlig offen: Denn Blair, der wegen seiner unkritischen Haltung im Irakkrieg auch als "Bushs Pudel" verspottet wurde, genießt bei vielen EU-Regierungen in Osteuropa Sympathien. Möglicherweise wird das "neue Europa" dem "alten" wieder die Stirn bieten. But the race for the top job in Europe[sic!] is as yet totally open: because Blair, who was also derided as "Bush's poodle" for his stand on the Iraq War, enjoys sympathies of many EU governments in East Europe[sic!]. Maybe "New Europe" will again defy the "Old".

On the last,

  1. I would not bet on it, as much as they are Atlanticist and believe(d) Bliar is a star;
  2. the new EU member countries may be many, but with weighted voting, not THAT strong to pose a blocking minority;
  3. in the EU, many of the smaller ones focused on inter-governmental cooperation already, and now Poland has a pro-EU government that campaigned on good relations with the rest of the EU instead of the Terrible Twins' permanent opposition, too.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 08:22:21 AM EST
hob ihn aber nicht offiziell aufs Schild

[<-untranslateable figure of speech in original]

Not at all. The English version would be 'doesn't officially fly his colours,' I think. English metaphors tend to be more naval than knightly, after all :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 09:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't know that!

I even checked phrase translation pages, but there was nothing for this.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 09:22:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my German is more than a bit rusty, so I may have gotten it wrong. But I read the German as saying "carrying him upon their shield" - an association to the heraldic images feudal knights often displayed on their shields to denote the lord to whom they were sworn. "Flying his colours" is a reference to the practise of ships to "fly the flag" of the nation they are registered in - the naval version of the heraldic shield.

Hence, by the way, the term "false-flag operation" which refers to the ruse de guerre where a warship would fly a neutral flag in order to allay suspicions until it was in a superior position, and then fire a surprise broadside into the enemy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 11:00:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you understood the German right and I already understood you right! It's only that sources I could find for my translation were apparently less well-versed in English (or German) than you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 11:26:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, after all, Britannia ruled the waves (among other geographical features).
by Quentin on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 11:01:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the race for the top job in Europe[sic!]

You have suggested drafting an LTE. Emphasizing that there will be four top jobs and that the letter and spirit of the treaties are that the Council President is little more than an analogue of the Chairman of the Bundesrat would be appropriate.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 09:44:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Done (see media diary).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 10:29:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - Breaking: Merkel endorses Juncker!
Spain's Socialist PM José Luis Zapatero, too, would rather vote for the Christian Democrat Juncker, instead of electing his comrade Blair - he doesn't forgive him the Iraq War [and what about his support for Aznar?].
By their friends you will know them. Who are Blair's friends? Bush, Aznar, Barroso, Berlusconi, Sarkozy. At least Zapatero knows a Socialist in Name Only when he sees one.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 11:34:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian yesterday had an article about Merkel´s opposition to Blair too.

"Stop Blair: ambition to lead Europe hits fierce opposition"

Tony Blair's hopes of becoming Europe's first president are running into mounting opposition across the EU, with Germany determined to stymie the former prime minister.

A "Stop Blair" website run by pro-Europeans has launched a petition against him; a transnational, cross-party caucus in the European parliament is forming to campaign against a Blair presidency; senior officials in Brussels are privately dismissive about the new post going to a Briton; and senior diplomats in European capitals also doubt that Blair is the right person for the post being created under Europe's new reform treaty.

...

"But more generally the German political elite would be puzzled by the idea of Tony Blair. His track record on EU matters is not so great. There is unease about a Briton at the top in that job. And then personally with Blair, there's the Iraq thing."

Sources close to Merkel confirmed her opposition. "He made a lot of fine speeches about Europe but, essentially, stood on the sidelines when it came to concrete steps forward," they said.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 12:26:59 PM EST
Incidentally, could you head over to the media thread and help us polishing the draft of a letter-to-the-editor to the FTD in German?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:44:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the strangest of recommendations -- from the Libertarian-Conservative and Eurosceptic British magazine Spectator (found by nanne):

The biggest tent of the lot: to stop Blair becoming EU President | The Spectator

Still, there is at least one bright spot resulting from Mr Blair's candidacy. The modest and agreeable Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg will not be able to believe the groundswell of support he receives from all corners of the continent. M. Juncker -- a name which has the right sort of ring about it for an EU presidency -- is considered to be the front-runner among alternative candidates. The name of Bertie Ahern has also been mentioned. Frankly, Blair aside, I couldn't care less, so long as the job has not the remotest vestige of power over my country.

Meanwhile, there's already a website devoted to making sure Blair does not get the job. It's called www.stopblair.eu and I think it's being run by a bunch of pro-federalist monkeys. Never mind that -- we're all together on this one, it's a big tent.

The modest and agreeable Jean-Claude Juncker is just about the biggest federalist around among the candidates discussed in the media.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:42:32 PM EST
I've watched her speech and agree with your conclusions. She left herself a backdoor open, but it basically was an endorsement.
I'm glad the presidency will be decided before the EP elections, if the EP had any say in this I had to consider voting for the CDU this time. Strange times.

/not seriously consider

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 07:36:13 PM EST
Actually, even while Bliar is Socialist,

Rote Rebellion gegen Tony Blair « DiePresse.com

Die SP-Fraktion im Europaparlament spricht sich nach heftigen internen Debatten gegen den früheren Labour-Premier als EU-Ratspräsident aus.

...Diese Woche war es in Straßburg zu einer heftigen Debatte zwischen französischen und britischen Abgeordneten in der SPE-Fraktion des Europaparlaments gekommen. Für Frankreichs Sozialisten war es ein Fauxpas, dass Blair wenige Tage zuvor bei einer Parteikonferenz der rechtsliberalen UMP in Paris aufgetreten war. Blair lasse sich von Sarkozy instrumentalisieren, hieß es. Britische Abgeordnete verteidigten zwar Blair. Dennoch setzten sich dem Vernehmen nach schließlich jene durch, die eine Ablehnung der Kandidatur des langjährigen Labour-Premiers verlangten.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 04:40:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For non-German-speakers, sorry for not bothering to translate. The article says that after a heated debate pitting British and French Socialist MEPs against each other, the Socialists agreed to oppose Bliar's candidacy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 04:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sanity prevails, but I'm bothered by the fact that the quoted paragraph frames it as an issue of British against French. What else happened? Did the Spanish or Italian or Portuguese MEPs mention Blair's ties with Aznar or Berlusconi or Barroso?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 04:58:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The quoted paragraph frames heated debate as one involving French MEPs incensed by Sarko's endorsement (this was back in January) and British MEPs defending their man. But the text speaks about agreement by the entire faction (what's more, the next paragraph extends that to the EPP: "Bei Blair sind sich die großen Fraktionen im Europaparlament weitgehend einig" = On Blair, the big factions of the EP are in wide agreement), and even before the quoted paragraph, cites a Socialist MEP from Austria.

Doch selbst für Blairs europäische Parteifreunde ist eine solche Bestellung unvorstellbar. ,,Er kann nicht mit unserer Unterstützung rechnen", sagt SPÖ-Europaabgeordneter Hannes Swoboda.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 05:28:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good article. The last paragraph explains that the EP votes on the Commission President, not on the Council President. It also quotes two Austrian MEPs, one Socialist and one from the ÖVP, who basically agree with the points of our petition. This paragraph quotes the ÖVP MEP saying that Blair was against the Euro, Schengen and the Charter of Fundamental Rights:

DiePresse.com: Rote Rebellion gegen Tony Blair

Bei Blair sind sich die großen Fraktionen im Europaparlament weitgehend einig. Auch von den Christdemokraten kommt ein ,,Nein": ,,Wir können uns Tony Blair nicht als Ratspräsident vorstellen", heißt es aus der Europäischen Volkspartei. ,,Es ist unmöglich, dass ein Vertreter eines Landes Ratspräsident wird, das weder am Euro, an Schengen, noch an der Grundrechtscharta teilnimmt", so der Vizevorsitzende der EVP-Fraktion, Othmar Karas (ÖVP).


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 05:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I referred to that in my edit of the relevant sentence of the Wikipedia article earlier this week.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 06:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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