German economy minister slams far-right AfD’s 'stupid' call for EU exit referendum

Europe
Thu, 25 Jan 2024 7:19 GMT
Robert Habeck calls it a ‘stupid’ proposal, underlines importance of EU, single market for Germany’s economic growth.
German economy minister slams far-right AfD’s 'stupid' call for EU exit referendum

Germany’s economy minister on Tuesday slammed the far-right AfD party for floating the “stupid” idea of a referendum on leaving the European Union.

“One cannot think of a more stupid thing in politics than saying Germany should leave the European Union, the single market,” Robert Habeck said in his speech at the Handelsblatt Energy Summit in Berlin.

Habeck underlined the importance of free movements of goods, services, capital, and persons within the European Union.

“That’s the recipe for the success of the German economy,” he said.

Contrary to the predictions of its proponents, Britain’s economy has suffered badly since it left the European Union, with many economists saying the 2016 decision cost the country hundreds of billions in euros.

On Monday, Alice Weidel, the co-leader of Germany’s AfD, said once they come to power, they will work to curb the powers of the EU’s unelected institutions, including the European Commission.

“But if a reform isn’t possible, if we fail to rebuild the sovereignty of the EU member states, we should let the people decide, just as Britain did,” she said in an exclusive interview with Britain’s Financial Times.

Weidel said if things reach that point, Germany could hold a “Dexit referendum” (using the German name Deutschland) on leaving the European Union, just as Britain did in 2016.

Ahead of the European Parliament elections in June, support for the AfD is growing in Germany, as many voters have expressed frustration with the ruling coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats.

A YouGov poll last week showed that the support for the AfD hit an all-time high of 24%, about nine percentage points ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The YouGov poll found that 12% of Germans would vote for the Greens, while only 6% would support the liberal Free Democrats.

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