What a week! It shook up European politics and showed how divided the EU is.
It began with new harshness: the foreign ministers launched economic sanctions against Belarus and its dictator Lukashenko, which are intended to “dry up the regime financially”, as Foreign Minister Maas explained. The new measures could also become a model for sanctions against Russia, which, according to a decision of the EU summit, are to be tightened when the opportunity arises. Yet, according to the overwhelming opinion of experts, sanctions do no good – they only do harm, often to the supposedly “good guys”, as I show in an article for Makroskop (“Wie die EU lernte, Sanktionen zu lieben”).
But the EU does not only speak the “language of power”. No, it also speaks the language of LGBT and thus non-Catholic love, as a letter from more than a dozen heads of state and government shows. Even Chancellor Merkel has signed it – although her CDU was still against “marriage for all” two years ago. And even today she is nowhere near as liberal as she likes to pretend (in the election campaign). No matter – the LGBT debate was elevated to a debate about values at the EU summit. Hungary’s illiberal Prime Minister Orban was lectured that the EU is not only a single market, but also a community of values – and whoever doesn’t like that should leave the club, as Dutch Prime Minister Rutte threatened.
Merkel did not join in this threat. After all, she still held her protective hand over Orban at the EU summit in December 2020 and negotiated a standstill agreement on the rule of law. They want to wait for a ruling by the highest EU court until there will (perhaps) be financial sanctions against Hungary. The time will come in autumn – then we will see what the EU’s noble values really are. Until then, Merkel is trying to keep things together. But at her last summit she had to realise that the cracks are deeper than ever and that it is no longer enough for her to concoct something together with France’s Macron. Her joint push for an EU-Russia summit turned into a debacle, Merkel thoroughly botched her exit from the European stage.
This post was first published on the Blog “Lost in EUrope”. More English posts here