The European project is in “mortal danger” from opponents inside and outside the EU, Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said Tuesday.
Oettinger said swift approval of the EU’s next long-term budget by national leaders and the European Parliament would show Europe remains capable of action in the face of such challenges.
“In my view, the project is in mortal danger,” he told an event organized by Germany’s Federal Association of Non-Statutory Welfare Services in Brussels on Tuesday evening.
“Some within Europe want to weaken it or even destroy it — Poland, Hungary, Romania, the government of Italy,” he said.
He added the EU was also at risk from autocrats using trade wars and aggression, mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and “the clever Chinese.”
Oettinger also said the government of own country, Germany, was not showing enough enthusiasm for the EU, particularly when it comes to the budget. He said Social Democrat Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was “an even stricter treasurer in this regard” than his conservative predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble.
Oettinger, a senior official in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, noted the first chapter of the German government’s coalition agreement is entitled “a new start for Europe.”
“I see nothing of that in the current debates in Berlin. Absolutely nothing,” he said.
He suggested it was an open question whether Berlin wanted to join a group of EU members pushing for a smaller EU budget. “Help to make sure the German government doesn’t make cuts, as it did last time,” he urged his audience.
This article is part of POLITICO’s coverage of the EU budget, tracking the development of the seven-year Multiannual Financial Framework. This coverage includes the Budget Briefing newsletter every Monday afternoon. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary trial.