Brussels launches FIFTY-ONE law suits against Germany – Merkel leaves dire EU legacy

Merkel departure would have ‘major impact’ on EU says Butikofer

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The German Federal Government has only been able to close 41 of the 92 EU infringement proceedings opened against Germany in the current legislative period. More than 50 proceedings against the largest economy in the bloc continue and must now be processed by the next federal government.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) in particular has not yet implemented important procedures, for example, to combat money laundering, in a satisfactory manner – although he promised to be strict in this area.

This can be seen in the government’s answer to a written question from FDP MP Markus Herbrand.

Accordingly, under the responsibility of Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU), only one of 16 proceedings initiated were closed.

Even with Mr Scholz (SPD) in charge, only five of the 15 proceedings that the EU Commission initiated against Germany for violations of EU directives or renewed them because of inadequate implementation were discontinued.

Among the ongoing infringement proceedings against Mr Scholz’s department, three stand out that do not fit well with the promises made by the SPD candidate for chancellor: Germany has not yet implemented the provisions of the EU directive on combating money laundering in a satisfactory manner.

The federal government is also lagging behind in combating sales tax losses in electronic marketplaces.

The same goes for EU anti-tax avoidance rules.

Mr Scholz had promised toughness in all of these fields.

In autumn 2020, for example, he stated that Germany had implemented the EU money laundering directive particularly strictly.

However, as can be seen from the answer from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the EU Commission was not satisfied with this, which is why the relevant infringement proceedings are still ongoing. Germany has been an Eldorado for money launderers for many years.

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“The inadequate implementation of EU directives damages Germany’s reputation and thwarts Europe-wide efforts to effectively combat tax avoidance, money laundering and sales tax fraud internationally,” said Herbrand.

“I completely fail to understand why the finance minister dawdles around on such important projects and puts off doing his homework, but otherwise presents himself as a pioneer on these issues,” said the FDP politician.

He continued: “Actually, one should expect that Europe-wide measures to close gaps for criminal machinations, will be implemented quickly and efficiently, so that life is made difficult for fraudsters.

“But here the federal government, above all Finance Minister Scholz and Economics Minister Altmaier, delivers a shameful result, even though they really had enough time to implement the plans.”

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The next federal government will be elected in less than six weeks when Angela Merkel will finally retire from national politics after 16 years of power.

Her party, the CDU, is increasingly running the risk to lose the top seat in the country, according to the latest polls.

Germany’s Social Democrats have gained more ground on Angela Merkel’s conservatives ahead of September’s federal election, two opinion polls showed on Wednesday, but they would still need to team up with two other parties to be able to govern.

The latest Forsa poll for RTL television put support for the Social Democrats (SPD) at 19 percent, up 3 points since last week and the best result for the centre-left party since 2018. The SPD is currently a junior coalition partner to Mrs Merkel’s conservatives.

Support for the conservatives slipped 3 points to 23 percent, the Greens were steady on 20 percent and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) fell a point to 12 percent.

The second poll, from Kantar for Focus magazine, put the SPD at 19 percent, up one point, and the centre-right CDU/CSU bloc at only 22 percent, down two points. The Greens were down one point at 21 percent.

With the statistical margin of error given by Kantar of around 3 percentage points, the survey means that all three parties are roughly neck and neck.

The new polls mean that the only possible coalitions would need three parties to work together rather than the current two, potentially making negotiations more protracted.

In a hypothetical direct vote for chancellor, the SPD’s candidate Olaf Scholz saw his support in the Forsa poll jump 5 points to 26 percent, while Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Mrs Merkel as chancellor, slipped 3 points to just 12 percent.

Mr Laschet has suffered a slump in support after he was seen laughing on a visit to a flood-stricken town.

That has prompted some critics to suggest Mr Laschet should renounce his candidacy in favour of Markus Soeder, leader of the Bavarian sister party of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who the Forsa poll showed would win 40 percent of support in a direct vote.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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