Germany and the EU: Still a sorry mess

WHAT a boatload of frustration Jean-Claude Juncker must have felt on June 9th. A former prime minister of Luxembourg who now hopes to become president of the European Commission, he had to watch four heads of government smiling for the cameras on a summery lake in Sweden, as they enjoyed themselves in a skiff. At the oars was Sweden’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the host of this mini-summit. In the boat were David Cameron of Britain, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Angela Merkel of Germany.The three men in the boat are sceptical that Mr Juncker is right for the job. Mr Cameron openly opposes his candidacy as he considers him a die-hard federalist who would be unable and unwilling to reform the European Union. Mr Cameron has even hinted that if Mr Juncker becomes president he may have to move a proposed British referendum on EU membership forward from 2017.Mr Reinfeldt, for his part, spoke for many EU countries in rejecting a parliament-led process for choosing the next president. In the run-up to the European elections on May 25th, Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat, who was president of the European Parliament, began talking up the German custom…

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