It seems as if my predictions about who will become the new German EU Commissioner were wrong. Spiegel Online reports today that Chancellor Merkel wants to nominate Wolfgang Schäuble, the current German Interior Minister, for the post in Brussels. This is quite a bad choice especially if he aims to get the Justice and Home affairs portfolio, or something connected to telecommunication/Internet regulation… And since he is a very experienced politician (he was tipped to become Chancellor Kohl’s successor at some point…) and one of the heavyweights of Angela Merkel’s government, he will surely get an influential portfolio.
But he is , together with Ursuala von der Leyen (also known as “Zensursula”), the hate figure of the German blogosphere and known for his law and order approach. So what is the problem?
He is quite fond of “preventive security” and critics accuse him of undermining the rule of law. He initiated several controversial counter terrorism laws in Germany. He once declared that the presumption of innocence should not be applied to terrorist suspects and that preventive assassinations should be made legal. Controversially, he also suggested that it should be possible for the German army to operate inside Germany. Schäuble also proposed that people that sympathize with terrorists should not be allowed to use internet and mobile phones. He also proposed to use statements that were made using torture in courts. In that context he also proposed that terrorists should not have the protection of the German Basic Law. Nor surprisingly, he defended the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay as a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism.
I don’t want someone with that kind of thinking in the College of Commissioners.
Schäuble is known to support everything that involves the use of biometric data including fingerprints, eye scanners, DNA tests – you name it!
As German Minister of the Interior he initiated a couple of very controversial data retention laws that allow the German government to store personal data for six months (everything from telephone and mobile calls to text messages and online behavior). Hence the civil rights campaign called Stasi 2.0. There is already too much support for these kind of measures in different member states, no need to “europeanise” that approach..
And a couple of things that I personally find quite worrying: (1) He actively supported a campaign against double citizenship in Germany in the late 1990s. (2) During the Iraq war he was one of the few German politicians that supported the US approach. (3) And he was heavily involved in the CDU party funding scandal a couple of years ago… A neo-con with a preference for backroom deals, the opposite of what we need in the European Commission.
So, I am rather skeptical about Wolgang Schäuble as the new German EU Commissioner especially if he wants to continue with his security policy, a policy field that is becoming more and more important at a EU level. The EU debate could turn rather nasty as he is likely to propose (but not necessarily implement!) controversial EU policies…
Of course he perfectly fits the traditional job description of a typical EU Commissioner: experienced national male politician (= old), end of the career posting to Brussels (= Merkel wants to get rid of him). Wolfgang Schäuble is unfortunately not a candidate to get excited about…