Merkel protege warns against centralised EU

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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, addresses a news conference to promote her candidacy to succeed the German leader as chief of their conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) – The leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) has responded to French President Emmanuel Macron’s ideas for a “European renaissance” by offering some overlap with his vision, while also warning against too much centralisation.

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Under the title “Doing Europe Right”, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed Mr Macron by calling for a reform of the European Union’s migration policy, but rejected his idea for a European minimum wage and cautioned against collective debts.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer’s response to Mr Macron fills a void left by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is under pressure from her party to engage with him more fully after leaving her spokesman to simply say Germany supports discussions about the EU’s future.

“Our Europe needs to become stronger,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeded Merkel as CDU leader in December, wrote in an opinion piece for the Welt an Sonntag weekly newspaper.

But she added: “European centralism, European statism, the collectivisation of debts, a Europeanisation of social systems and the minimum wage would be the wrong way.”

That appeared to counter Mr Macron’s call for a European minimum wage, adapted to each country, and also highlighted the entrenched resistance in Berlin to any moves that could make Germany liable for other countries’ debts.

Mr Macron’s proposals, unveiled in an open letter to citizens of Europe that was published this week in newspapers across the EU, aim to protect and defend Europe’s citizens while giving the 28-nation bloc new impetus in the face of global competition.

Since winning election as French president in 2017, Mr Macron has championed EU reform, but wariness in Berlin of increased burdens on German taxpayers has left him short of big-bang measures.

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