Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer opposed President Macron’s call for a “European minimum wage” and a further transferring of powers from member states to Brussels, insisting national sovereignty must come first. The intervention by Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, comes a week after Mr Macron used his op-ed published in 28 newspapers, one in each member state, to call for a “European Renaissance”. She said: “European centralism, the pooling of debts, a Europeanisation of social systems and the minimum wage would be the wrong way to go.”
Ms Merkel’s protege, who was elected last December, went on to back some of the young president’s proposals including reforming the Schengen zone and changing the EU’s asylum and immigration system.
Published in Welt am Sonntag on Sunday, her article carried the headline “Getting Europe right this time”.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer warned Brussels must not be allowed to become a “superstate” and called for tax breaks for EU civil servants.
She said: “The work of European institutions cannot claim moral superiority over the co-operation between national governments.
“The reform of Europe will not work without the nation states: they are the guarantors of democratic legitimacy and a sense of belonging.
“It is the member states that formulate and bring together their own interests on a European level.
“This is where the international weight of the Europeans comes from.”
Her stance is in stark contrast to that of Mr Macron, who last week implored the “citizens of Europe” to stand strong against the “lies” and populism that paved the way for Brexit, which he said posed a “danger” to the bloc.
And in an apparent snub to France, Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, Ms Merkel’s presumptive heir, said the second seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg should be wiped out.
She also stopped short of supporting Mr Macron’s environmental plans which include making Europe carbon-neutral by 2050.
She argued that while the bloc possess a “clear responsibility” to protect the environment, “nothing has been achieved through ambitious definitions of European targets and limits”.
Ms Kramp-Kartenbauer’s words represent yet another clear sign Germany and France differ on many points when it comes to taking the EU forward in a post-Brexit world.