Kanzler, Leave Them Kids Alone

by Andrew Stuttaford

You can take Angela Merkel out of East Germany, but you cannot take East Germany out of Angela Merkel.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

School students should be given a “European Union education” in the classroom to tackle “ignorance” and growing public Euro-scepticism, according to an election manifesto signed by Angela Merkel and eight other of Europe’s leaders.  The [center-right] European People’s Party (EPP), the EU’s biggest political grouping, is convinced such a programme would improve the public image of Brussels, which has never been lower. Its manifesto for May’s European elections calls for the introduction of “EU education in schools across Europe in order to prepare the next generation for future challenges and to nurture a European approach”.

Meanwhile, David Cameron, busily steering Britain’s Tories towards electoral disaster in the U.K.’s 2015 general election, continues to insist that this same Merkel is the woman who will deliver a pared-down, modest EU in which Britain can finally be comfortable.

In other news, the EPP also picked Jean-Claude Juncker, a political colossus (and former prime minister of Luxembourg) whose name will echo through the generations, as its “face” for the upcoming elections for the European parliament, and preferred candidate to become the next president (top bureaucrat) of the EU Commission.

The Daily Telegraph gives some background:

Mr Juncker, 59, is a passionate supporter of the idea of a “United States of Europe” and chaired meetings of the eurozone at the height the EU single currency’s debt crisis until he resigned as Luxembourg’s leader amid a scandal over illegal phone-tapping. “I am totally in favour. The knowledge of Europe has to be deepened in school programmes,” he said. “There is ignorance about the basics and this was evident during the so-called euro crisis.”

So-called?

In 2011, Mr Juncker courted controversy when he was caught on tape saying that he “had to lie” in his role as chairman of the eurozone and that important economic decisions could only be taken in “dark secret rooms”.

“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious,” he said on a video recorded by the EUobserver website. “When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

On the other hand, Juncker may have some redeeming weaknesses. Earlier this year the right-of-center Luxemburger Wort reported as follows:

Eurogroup president [that’s a grouping of euro zone finance ministers]  Jeroen Dijssebloem appears to be holding something of a grudge against his predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker, calling the former Luxembourg PM a “heavy smoker and drinker” on a Dutch talkshow. On the programme “Knevel & Van den Brink” – broadcast on Monday evening – Dijsselbloem initially avoided talking about Juncker. However, when asked if smoking and drinking are allowed at Eurogroup meetings, Dijsselbloem commented that while this has always been forbidden “the former chairman” did not stick to the rules.

Dijsselbloem went on to say that Juncker is a “heavy smoker and drinker.”

When asked if a politician had ever been drunk during negotiations, Dijsselbloem added that no-one was ever incapacitated at the meetings he has so far attended.

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