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As much as VDL is a controversial character in Germany (and in the German speaking world, judging by the reactions of ETribbers), she is pretty much unknown in France. I've read about mismanagement of the Ministry of Defense and the derelict state on the Bundeswehr, but frankly, who in Europe is excited at the idea of a strong German military?

As to why Macron supported her, I can only try to speculate as to what his reasoning is:

  • Not Manfred Weber, whom Macron didn't want for lack of "government experience" (official reason) and being the epitome of the CDU/CSU's views on EU government (closer to the truth); VDL has been in the German cabinet. Check.
  • Since Timmermans was blocked by the V4 and Vestager didn't have a majority at the EUCO either, an ideal compromise candidate had to be German (check) and EPP (check) to appease the CDU/CSU still miffed at Weber's rejection.
  • Prevent Jens Weidmann from claiming the ECB (check: this will go to Ch.Lagarde).
  • Candidate should be a "federal Europe" type; which seems to be the case with VDL, even if her CDU/CSU colleagues are certainly not leaning that way (but Macron doesn't care about CDU/CSU feelings). Check.
  • Able to speak several languages, including French, like Juncker or Timmermans. Check.
  • Preferably female, to be able to brag about gender balance, "Europe is a woman" etc... Check.
  • Still, not too strong a personality as to not rival the executive in the EUCO (starting with a young and ambitious French president). Check.

All in all, a rather cynical compromise, but that's typical Macron.
by Bernard on Wed Jul 17th, 2019 at 10:19:21 AM EST
Excellent summary, but you left out the biggest reason: Macron is rather partial to photogenic older women...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 17th, 2019 at 10:38:30 AM EST
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Adding to this, in light of the past week's events, it looks pretty clear that the Council has wanted to reassert its preeminence over the Commission, especially vis a vis the Parliament and the Spitzenkandidat system (which has never been written in any treaty, BTW). Macron's ambitions have certainly played a part, especially now that the EPP and PSE do no longer have an absolute majority at the EP and have to rely more on RE and its large French Macronistas contingent.

The other ominous thing is the blocking of Timmermans by the fascists in the Council, Orban and Morawiecki, despite him being Macron's and Merkel's plan A (reportedly helped by the Eminence Grise Martin Seylmar). The Franco-German axis is not that almighty it seems.

Lastly, the kabuki theater at the European Parliament leading to VdL confirmation has shown to be largely due to German domestic politics turmoil and the uncertain future of the GroKo. That the CDU/CSU and the SPD (and even die Grünen) bring their infighting all the way to Strasbourg is not exactly good news: over tha past years, much of EU and EZ policy decisions have been driven by political thinking in Germany, even during a crisis. No EU country is an island, not even the insular states (or the big continental ones).

by Bernard on Sat Jul 20th, 2019 at 10:32:31 AM EST
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