Bmodest is the claim with which Manfred Weber applies for the office of EU Commission President. He and the Conservative EPP Group in the EU Parliament want "to make the world a better place," said the CSU MEP on Monday in front of the Berlin capital press.
He wanted to democratize Europe. Strengthen Parliament. Make it to the forum for the important debates. All this Weber presented in an unagitated pitch.
But achieving these goals would be a quantum leap at a time when the European Parliament is still in the shadow of national parliaments and discussions in Strasbourg or Brussels are rarely seen in everyday life – and if so, then at most as a negative screen for things that are widespread Keeping things wrong in politics.
"That gives me a lot of strength"
But Weber has opted for optimistic messages for the European elections, which takes place in Germany on 26 May next year. The European People's Party (EPP), which includes the CDU and CSU, is again expected to be the strongest party, Weber said. And thus put him in the position to become successor to the Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker.
The 46-year-old is inspired by a meeting in Helsinki, where he was voted EPP's top candidate a week and a half ago – in a battle vote against former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb. The 800 delegates decided by secret ballot with almost 80 percent for the Bavarians.
Helsinki stands for a "convention of the competition", while its victory in turn marks the EPP as a "party of unity," Weber said. The eight present heads of government, among them those from Cyprus, Croatia, Austria and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), would have publicly stood behind him. "That gives me a lot of strength."
The European elections in May was a "fateful choice" between European approval and rejection of Europe. "The main enemy is the specter of nationalism," said Weber. The threat to Europe is as great as "not since the Second World War". In this context, he explicitly attacked the AfD, "the Brexit party of Germany", and warned who chose this party, "gets things like now in London – difficult conditions".
For this reason, Weber wants Europe to think more "from the people". His conclusion: "We have to give Europe back to the citizens. That may sound technically, but is the essential question. "Supposedly this sounds not technically, but at best vague.
For example, Weber demands that "illegal migration must be stopped and stopped" while Europe should remain receptive to the political persecutees. However, there is no consensus on the corresponding upgrading of the border management agency Frontex, nor is it clear how migration can be effectively restricted as long as liberal German asylum law makes entry possible, stating false reasons.
It was not until the weekend that the current EPP parliamentary group leader had stated that he would not apply for the successor of Horst Seehofer as CSU chief. That was no surprise. Weber, until now Deputy CSU leader, would have been reasonably hopeless in the party.
The majority of the Christian socials are skeptical about a too extensive shifting of competences from the national to the European level – in the Free State one would like to regulate the most important things on site anyway. This tension between Europe and the nation-state does not make Weber's presentation of his political positions easy.
Europe is already an "economic giant," said the graduate engineer, citing Junker's Washington talks with US President Donald Trump over the postponement of US trade sanctions against Europe. Now Europe must also become a "political giant", a "world power of values".
Only minutes later, Weber assured us: "We too are strong nation states." He considers it possible to shift his competence to the Brussels level, above all in foreign and security policy. "We have to get away from unanimity. We need more majority voting there. "
The European Council, the body of heads of state and government of the EU, should clear the way for this – unanimously. How likely is it that Poland or Hungary would agree? Or even Germany, which probably does not even participate, when the EU acquires a majority stake in, for example, US military action against Syria after a poison gas mission?
Weber is nevertheless optimistic. The EU's economic and financial problems are largely over, "the crisis has been overcome". References to the continued increase in Greece's indebtedness, which stood at 129 percent in 2009 and exceeded 178 percent last year, make Weber just as inapplicable as the EU budget dispute with Italy.
The CSU man prefers to refer to the EU-wide barely increased debt, including an improving economy. And he reaffirms his conviction "that people across the continent long for messages that are optimistic again".
As part of his election campaign Weber wants to start a "listening tour" through European countries. His first stop was on Tuesday Auschwitz in Poland. With the visit of the former German extermination camp he wanted to make clear that "I am aware of the German responsibility".
He wanted to travel from Auschwitz to Warsaw. On Wednesday he will take part in an anti-Semitism conference in Vienna at the invitation of the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Hallstein's ambitious goals
He did not want to be elected President of the European Commission by means of right-wing extremist parties, assured Weber during his performance. He is counting on an alliance of Europe-friendly forces. Weber would be the first German EU Commission President since Walter Hallstein, who was elected in 1958 at the head of the Commission of the then still European Economic Community (EEC) firming Union and remained until 1967 in office.
By the way, the goals of Hallstein were even more ambitious than those of his possible successor, Weber. While the CSU candidate wants to preserve the nation states in Europe, the CDU politician from Mainz formulated at the time: "Whatever we decide and try to implement in the newly created European institutions, the goal is and remains the overcoming of nations and the organization of a post-national Europe. "