The European Recovery Plan is therefore also, to some degree, a European extension of Germany’s national rescue package.
In this context, I would be careful with marking the European Recovery Plan as a fundamental German shift, or the beginning of a new political constellation in Europe. Germany has had its way with austerity against the South of Europe and has pushed its way on refugees against the East of Europe. Whether it will muster the necessary political will and capital to take on the North of Europe when it comes to the recovery package, remains to be seen.
The European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has promised a "massive" stimulus plan and announced on Wednesday, May 27 2020 that the Commission will spend 750 billion euros to get the continent out of this unprecedented recession. How was this announcement received by the different political forces in Germany?
The biggest challenge for Angela Merkel lies within her own political family. The CDU/CSU seems divided on the issue. Several notable CDU/CSU spokespersons have already criticised the stimulus plan and supported Chancellor Kurz and the "frugal four". The liberal FDP, traditionally allies of the conservatives, have already expressed their extreme disagreement with the plan, as of course has the far-right Alternative für Deutschland. That leaves the Greens as one of the only opposition parties in the German Bundestag supporting the fundamental direction in which the European stimulus plan goes. In this context, it lends credence to an old quote from The Economist: "The remaining believers in a European vision are mostly Greens – along with the last bastion of the Europhile centre-right, Germany’s CDU."
The European recovery plan requires that Member states present an investment and reform plan compatible with the political priorities of the Commission: the "Green Deal", the green transition and a greater European sovereignty. Which concrete projects could bring a greener, stronger Europe for tomorrow?
Without a doubt the investment and reform plan must future-proof Europe’s economy by making it more climate-friendly, digitalized and competitive in the long-term. However, the stimulus plan also needs to have an economic effect right now, while the going is tough. While building more wind farms, for example, might have an effect a couple of years down the line, it might not do much to ease the economic situation at this moment. For now, three general policy proposals come to mind.