Germany’s drive for EU-China deal draws criticism from other EU countries

Germany’s drive for EU-China deal draws criticism from other EU countries

Italy, Poland, Belgium and Spain don’t like the way the investment agreement was pushed through in the last days of the German presidency of the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strong push to conclude the EU-China deal in the last days of the year has left a bad aftertaste among a group of EU countries who said they felt ignored.

Officials from Italy, Poland, Belgium and Spain criticized the way Germany pushed through the investment agreement with China in the final days of the German presidency of the Council of the EU, despite their warnings that the timing was tone deaf to slave labor concerns in China and risked alienating incoming U.S. President Joe Biden.

The officials said they felt steamrolled by Merkel and the “German engine” inside the European Commission, in particular Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and trade department director Sabine Weyand, who are both German.

“There’s a lot of frustration among smaller countries about the way the Commission has been used to push through one of Merkel’s pet projects at the end of her term and the end of her legacy,” said one EU diplomat.

“Is this the way the EU will work post-Brexit? The Brits are just out and we’re already missing their open market-oriented approach,” the diplomat said. “If Germany weighs in too much, smaller EU countries have nothing to say.”