French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. EU leaders gathered Thursday for a two-day summit which will center on the Brexit negotiations. (John Thys, Pool Photo via AP)

He was once considered the hope of Europe: French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to prescribe major reforms to the EU. But at the summit in Brussels his plans were buried for now.

For almost seven minutes, Angela Merkel talks about what she has discussed with other EU leaders at the Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday. It is about Brexit, the EU’s next long-term budget, Russia and the Sea of ​​Azov. Only at the very end does the Chancellor turn to the euro zone budget, perhaps the most important part of the EU reform plans of

French President Emmanuel Macron

It takes exactly one minuteOf course, the euro zone budget should be a post in the future EU budget. But there is little left of Macron’s great idea, with many billions of euros in an emergency clammy EU countries under the arms can. Of course, you can at least see it as a start – and both Macron and Merkel are smart enough to sell the summit result as a success.

Against a dark blue background and the tricolor, Macron praises the decisions of the euro as “a decisive breakthrough in the plans that France presented a year ago” and praises the cooperation with Merkel. “We play a historic role, together with Germany, to move forward.” In the hall next door Merkel does the same. It has agreed on Macron’s proposals “in the version in which all states in the Eurozone can participate,” says the Chancellor. Both she and Macron are “quite satisfied that this has been achieved”.

Europe has left Macron hanging

But the truth is bitter: Europe has left Macron hanging. Since Friday afternoon, the “window of opportunity”, so often mentioned, is closed. As expected, at the EU summit, it was only a small step in the matter of Eurozone reform. There will be an additional emergency parachute for troubled banks, and the euro rescue ESM receives new tasks. That is not nothing, but not a departure.

This is especially true for the euro zone budget. In the final declaration of the Brussels summit, the budget has only a dry paragraph, which does not even contain the word eurozone budget. The money will be spent on making Euromembers more competitive. Specifically not mentioned is the stabilization function of the budget, which Macron was important. The aim is to support, for example, with loans in the event of a crisis, the unemployment schemes in the Member States.

The finance ministers should now submit proposals for the structure of the budget. The size of the pot, which Macron originally wanted to fill with several percent of the EU’s economic output, is not lost on heads of state and government. It will be decided in the context of the negotiations on the EU’s next multiannual budget, it said. But they should be completed at the earliest in the fall of 2019. Prior to this, they want to find a “general approach” to the eurozone budget by June.