Berlin could break away from Brussels as Germans ‘feel held back’ by EU red tape

Germany: Expert discusses EU's 'red tape' impact on economy

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Germany could be set to break away from Brussels as voters become fed up with the EU “holding the country back”. German Chancellor Merkel has come under intense pressure for allowing the EU Commission to spearhead the vaccine procurement scheme, which has been lagging behind other global powers. Deutsche Bank’s Marion Muehlberger told CNBC that Germans are frustrated with EU red tape following the vaccine crisis.

This comes as Deutsche Bank has said that Ms Merkel’s departure later this year “will leave a void in EU leadership” and could plunge the Brussels bloc into crisis.

CNBC host Steve Sedgwick asked Ms Muehlberger: “In terms of Germany’s relationship with the EU, Germany has of course benefited in so many ways.

“They have been able to export to the group and had a lower currency for its international exporters.

“But is the EU still actually working for Germany at the moment?”

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He continued: “Quite frankly, such an efficient and amazing economy has been hamstrung by a woeful performance from the Commission.

“Is the relationship between the EU and Germany about to change?”

The Deutsche Bank economist responded: “Germany has always played an instrumental part in shaping the EU and bringing it forward. That won’t change anytime soon.

“It will be interesting to see who fills the leadership void in the EU once Angela Merkel steps down.

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“It might that Emmanuel Macron from France is left more space, particularly since he is in an election campaign next year.

“That might be a way for him to take more responsibility on the EU floor.”

CNBC co-host Geoff Cutmore followed up: “It was German technology that led to the Pfizer vaccine.

“There are concerns that have been raised that difficult it has been for Germany to exploit its IP leadership in his particular situation.

“Again, is there an argument here that Germany is being held back to a certain extent by the constraints of joint action, as required under the EU mandates?”


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Ms Muehlberger responded: “Many would say it’s been a man on the moon moment for Germany with the vaccine.

“But, yes, it would have been better with less red tape, and of course, that is an important point that has to be followed up on.”

Voters in Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate are heading to the polls on Sunday in elections that are seen as a test for the CDU party as it prepares its post-Merkel era.

There are fears among EU officials that Ms Merkel’s departure could lead to a less German-centric EU and more chaos inside the bloc.

Johannes Greubel and Sophie Pornschlegel, analysts at the European Policy Centre, said: “Chancellor Merkel will leave behind a political vacuum that cannot be easily filled.”

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