Thu. Apr 22nd, 2021


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EU panic as Mario Draghi tipped to disrupt Macron and Merkel’s supremacy in Brussels

3 min read

Mario Draghi: Eurozone economy weaker than expected

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The European Union, and its predecessor versions, have always relied upon Germany and France as its anchor tenants. It was French wartime hero and later President Charles de Gaulle who famously told German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1963 that, “Europe is France and Germany; the rest are just the trimmings”. More than half a century later, General de Gaulle’s comment is still relevant.

It was German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron who this summer came up with the idea of a huge coronavirus recovery package, otherwise known as the recovery fund.

The €750billion (£668billion) fund will be used as loans and grants to the countries hit hardest by the virus.

The remaining money represents the EU budget for the next seven years and it has been described as the first step towards “a fiscal union”.

Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel also played an “active role” in driving through the EU-China investment pact earlier this year, despite deep concerns about Beijing’s use of its economic clout to enmesh itself in western countries.

This balance of power could soon be disrupted, though.

The former President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, was sworn-in as Italy’s next Prime Minister earlier this month.

Among his first major tasks will be to accelerate the vaccination programme and rescue the economy from its worst recession since World War 2.

He could also shape the future of European politics and restore transatlantic relations with the US.

Senior writer at Barron’s Group, Pierre Briançon, wrote on Twitter: “Draghi as Italian Prime Minister does not only change Italy, it could also upset the EU’s comfy balance of power, based for too long on the Franco-German duo.

“A third heavyweight around the leaders’ table.

“Macron and Merkel (and her successor) will have to deal with an influential voice, whose competence in economic and monetary matters dwarfs theirs (to say the least) and whose international aura and prestige at least equals their own.

“Should make for interesting intra-EU dynamics.”

Special correspondent for European affairs at Huffington Post Angela Mauro echoed Mr Briançon’s comments, arguing the new Italian Prime Minister will take advantage of the nearing elections in Germany and France.

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She wrote: “There is a long-time leader nearing the end of her political cycle: in Germany they vote on September 26 and Merkel cannot be reelected.

“There is a French President who will soon dive into a complicated electoral campaign for the presidential elections in 2022.

“On the other side of the ocean, there is a new US administration, intent on reconnecting ties with Europe after Trump and intent on trying to put it against Russia and China.

“And there is a new ‘heavy’ Prime Minister who is about to appear on the global political scene, strengthened by his international ties.


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“European but above all with the US: Draghi.

“The Franco-German duo looks tired, it wouldn’t be surprising if it turns out to be anachronistic in a few months.”

Mr Draghi seems to share the same hostility towards China and Russia as new US President Joe Biden.

On the other hand, asked at a press conference in Berlin whether the arrest and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as the expected revamp of EU-US relations under the new President, have had an impact on her opinion about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Mrs Merkel said: “My basic attitude has not changed yet to the point where I say that the project should not exist.”

Her comments reportedly ignited tensions in Washington, which was already said to be unimpressed with the EU signing the investment pact with China earlier this year.

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