Berlin Rejects EU 'Corrosion' Merkel Slams Sarkozy's 'Club Med' Plans
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come out strongly against French President Nicolas Sarkozy's vision of a Mediterranean Union. Merkel believes the proposed bloc poses a risk to the EU's core and could release "explosive forces."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, seen here surveying the town of Algiers during his trip to Algeria this week, has grand plans for the Mediterranean.
Speaking at a conference in Berlin Wednesday, Merkel attacked Sarkozy's vision for an association of Mediterranean nations as being "very dangerous." The German chancellor used unusually harsh language to warn the French president against splitting the very core of the European Union with his vision of a Paris-led alternative union -- and one from which Germany would be excluded.
Merkel said she was highly skeptical of Sarkozy's plans and insisted that any cooperation with the EU's neighbors must include all EU member states. Otherwise, she warned, Germany could, for example, form an Eastern European Union with Ukraine and other countries. These types of developments would threaten the cohesion and unity of the EU, she said. She warned that allowing a separate association with access to the EU coffers could lead to a "corrosion of the EU in its core area" and release "explosive forces in the EU that I would not like to see."
"One thing has to be clear," she said. "Northern Europeans also share responsibility for the Mediterranean, just as the the future of the borders with Russia and Ukraine is an issue that concerns those living on the Mediterranean."
On Wednesday, the French president announced that he wanted France and Algeria, a former French colony, to form the axis of a future Mediterranean Union stretching from Morocco to Turkey and including just seven EU states. Speaking on the third day of a state visit to the North African country, Sarkozy said he saw the creation of a union of Mediterranean states as a way to heal the wounds of the past, in the same way that the EU had done 60 years ago between France and Germany.
Sarkozy had already proposed his vision, which the French press has dubbed "Club Med," during the presidential election campaign earlier this year. And his enthusiasm for the idea seems far from diminished.
However, the European Commission is unimpressed with Sarkozy's Mediterranean shennanigans, fearing they could undermine the 12-year Barcelona process aimed at promoting dialogue between the EU and 10 neighboring countries. There are also suspicions in Brussels that the French president's true motive is to prevent Turkey from pursuing its bid to join the EU.
The French president's tendency to go it alone has already raised hackles in Germany, particularly his trip to Libya in July after the release of five Bulgarian nurses, when he signed five agreements -- including one on nuclear energy -- with the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.