EU divided: Austria’s Chancellor HITS BACK after stinging German criticism in huge spat
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Mr Kurz responded after an article written by Sawsan Chebli, State Secretary for Civic Engagement and International Affairs and a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), for Christ & World, a supplement of German newspaper Die Zeit last week. In it, she accused the 33-year-old, who has been a vocal opponent of the coronavirus rescue plan, largely because two-thirds of the money will consist of grants rather than loans, of lacking commitment to Europe. Ms Chebli, who knows Mr Kurz during her time as an employee of the German Foreign Ministry, wrote: “I asked myself again and again what happened to Sebastian Kurz, whom I got to know and appreciate in 2015, who fought with passion for a strong and united Europe.
“I was thrilled with the down-to-earthness you performed in Brussels and, above all, with how much heart you stood up for solidarity and common European solutions.
“I often heard a language from you that right-wing populists usually use. A language that does not connect, but divides.
“Europe’s fate is in your hands too.”
Clearly stung by her words, Mr Kurz responded in the same supplement today.
He wrote: “We are not worse Europeans, just because we point out the responsibility towards our taxpayers, for a clear time limit and for loans instead of subsidies.
“We have taken intensive care patients from Italy, France and Montenegro to save lives. Italy and the countries of the Western Balkans have also received relief supplies from us with protective equipment and disinfectants.”
Mr Kurz pointed to a £485billion (€540 billion) EU aid package which has been available to the health sector in those countries since June.
He said: “We have a huge responsibility towards our taxpayers, who are already burdened by a severe recession in our own countries.
How can it suddenly be responsible to spend €500billion in borrowed money and send the bill into the future?
“How can it suddenly be responsible to spend €500billion in borrowed money and send the bill into the future?”
Referring to the EU’s two most powerful member-states, he said: “It is good that two Member States as large as Germany and France are making proposals to make an important contribution to the European debate.
“But it is just as important that we maintain Europe as a place for lively discussion at eye level.
“In the current difficult emergency situation, one has to help each other in Europe.”
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However, this had to be done with a sense of proportion and responsibility, he stressed.
He added: “It has always been a matter of great concern to me to objectify the debate about integration in Austria again – apart from left-wing dreamers and right-wing agitators.
“Nobody should question basic values such as equality between men and women or freedom of expression.
“We have to stop the development of parallel societies right from the start.”
Mr Kurz is far from being alone in his criticism of the EU’s approach.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in May, former German MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel said: “To finance its new and additional 750 billion corona reconstruction package, the Commission now wants to introduce new taxes which would be levied on the EU citizens by Brussels and then flow directly to Brussels!
“In the current economic crisis, we need additional taxes like we need a hole in our heads.
“Rather than becoming a solution to our problems, Brussels is becoming the problem.
“The Corona crisis is now being used by some countries like Italy, Spain and France to get others like Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark to help pay their debts.
“This solidarity a la Corona means that everybody should be responsible for all, which in the end amounts to no one being responsible anymore.
“Economists call this moral hazard, and this is exactly what happens now in the EU.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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