Macron may 'struggle' with left-leaning voters says expert
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A recent study has found 26 percent of people in Germany believe Ms von der Leyen is to blame for the EU’s vaccine fiasco. The decision to shift responsibility for the vaccination procurement to the EU has left member states lagging far behind the rollout of Britain, the US and Israel. The UK has provided a first jab to more than 65 percent of its adult population, whereas Germany is stuck at 20 percent.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, German MEP Gunnar Beck commented on the Infratest Dimap poll, saying he was not surprised.
He explained: “German people are waking up to the incompetent policies of the EU and the role played by failed politician Ursula von der Leyen during the coronavirus crisis.
“The mood is gradually changing in Germany and I hope this will lead to the EU finally being held to account by voters across Europe.”
As the EU chief continues to face increasing scrutiny, unearthed reports shed light on what led to her appointment.
Jana Randow and Alessandro Speciale recalled in their new book on Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, titled “L’Artefice”, how French President Emmanuel Macron was behind Ms von der Leyen’s selection.
They wrote: “The team of candidates for the number one position was quite numerous.
“At the beginning, the debate revolved around a German, a Dutchman and a Dane, none of whom managed to win enough consensus.
“The impasse was broken by Macron, with the proposal of an agreement that put the German Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, as head of the Commission and Christine Lagarde at the top of the European Central Bank (ECB).
“Two women, two representatives of the main powers of the Union, two moderates with impeccable pro-European credentials: precisely what most observers had considered impossible.”
According to political commentator and Anglo-German historian Katja Hoywer, having a French woman, Ms Lagarde, as head of the ECB was not the French President’s only objective.
She explained in a recent report for The Spectator: “Some in Brussels suspect that Emmanuel Macron wanted a weak candidate so he could mould her — and the continent — in his own image.
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“This may explain it.
“The EU leaders wanted someone who looked plausible but was ineffective at running a European Commission that they did not want to become too powerful.
“By that measure, she was the perfect candidate.
“Perhaps now, as the Commission fails to deal with the pandemic, it will regret its decision, looking at the trail of mayhem she has left in her wake.
“And it seems that she has not finished yet.”
Prior to her current position, the likes of Andrew Neil claim Ms von der Leyen was a “failed defence minister” in Germany ‒ perhaps because of high-profile military equipment failures during her tenure.
The German army has faced a shortage of equipment for years, but the situation became so precarious in 2014 that some soldiers had to take matters into their own hands.
Bundeswehr troops tried to hide their lack of arms by replacing heavy machine guns with broomsticks during a NATO exercise.
After painting the wooden sticks black, the German soldiers attached them to the top of armoured vehicles, according to a confidential army report which was leaked to German broadcaster ARD.
A defence ministry spokesperson said the use of broomsticks was not a common practice, and that the decision of the involved soldiers was “hard to comprehend”.
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According to the ministry, the armoured vehicles were also not supposed to be armed.
It is not clear how many broomsticks were substituted for machine guns.
However, the revelation came at the worst possible moment for Ms von der Leyen.
The same day, the Ukrainian army suffered a defeat at the hands of pro-Russian rebels in the town of Debaltseve, putting a renewed focus on the question of whether Europe’s NATO allies would be able to manage the crisis militarily – without American intervention.
To make things worse, the broom-equipped German soldiers belonged to a crucial joint NATO task force and would have been the first to be deployed in case of an attack.
Opposition politicians expressed concerns about Germany’s ability to defend itself and other European allies, given that even some of the most elite forces lacked basic equipment.
The central European country was the world’s third-largest arms exporter in 2013 but, when it came to Germany’s own defence, politicians have been unwilling to invest.
It is not the only time the German army embarrassed itself.
Just a few months before she quit as defence minister in 2019, US officials found that German forces had been using mobile phones during a NATO exercise because of a lack of encrypted radio equipment.
At the same time, the Bundeswehr was forced to scrap its standard issue assault rifles when it was discovered they didn’t shoot straight in temperatures above 30°C.
Ms von der Leyen served in Angela Merkel’s cabinet from 2005 to 2019.
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