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Germany's six-month EU presidency comes to an end this weekend. Not impressed by the treaty deal, Chancellor Merkel's domestic critics say she needs to focus more attention on issues at home.
Merkel's critics say it's time to tackle issues at home
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel gets ready to hand over her country's six-month rotating EU presidency to Portugal this weekend, she can look back on a successful stint on the European stage that has earned her international praise.
During the past six months Merkel has tackled major issues. The German leader helped hammer out a climate deal in March, organized the bloc's 50th anniversary party this spring and last week squeezed out an agreement on a landmark treaty that will pave the future path for the 27-nation bloc.
Merkel, in her last address to the European Parliament, said the treaty will provide a foundation for a common future.
"At the end of the day we did not disappoint people's expectations and we avoided a division," she said. "Europe can once again look forward to a period of strength and confidence."
Negotiating between different interests isn't always easy
For the most part, Merkel's political opponents in Germany felt she handled negotiations well. Guido Westerwelle from the opposition Free Democratic Party, a free-market liberal party, felt the successful EU presidency underscored German diplomacy.
"It was not only in the interest of the parliamentary groups that Germany's EU presidency would be successful, but also in a national interest," Westerwelle said.
But not everyone in the opposition ranks is pleased with Merkel's EU treaty deal. Gergor Gysi, head of the Left Party, a new left-wing alliance, said he was extremely disappointed the treaty didn't do more to address the issue of basic human rights.
It's tragic that "each country can decide whether to adopt these basic rights or not and whether they're binding. This is naturally not an improvement," Gysi said.
The Green Party had also hoped for more. Green leader Renate Künast felt Merkel didn't do much to advance social causes.
"The only social issue point on the agenda, namely EU pensions, was not advanced by Merkel. That would have been a sign…that this EU is concerned for the daily social problems of people. This is a failing," Künast said.
"Miss World is over"
Merkel, center, in the hot seat
For the Left Party, the German presidency's top issues were too far removed from the daily lives of EU residents. People are interested in issues such as taxes and salaries, said Oskar Lafontaine, chair of the Left Party. People will only support the European Union if they feel the bloc is aligned with their interests, Lafontaine said.
Merkel's critics point out that with the end of the EU presidency that involved six months of travelling and talking constantly about European issues, Merkel will now have to get ready to debate internal issues.
"Domestic politics are calling and she has to do her homework. Miss World is over and Miss Germany…is also in demand," Westerwelle said.