Originally he had no plans to go to Europe. It was more by chance, as Daniel Caspary (CDU) admits, that he ended up in the European Parliament. The man who has been leading the group of German CDU/CSU members in the European Parliament for five years remembers the times when he still sat in the local council of Stutensee in the northern part of Baden and pursued his job as a manager at an energy company every Monday evening: “Local politics was my hobby. Originally, I didn’t want to change anything about it.” But things turned out differently.
Caspary was district leader of the Junge Union (Young Union of Germany) in 2003. His party was looking for a candidate for the European Parliament. Some canceled, so he was asked to do it. That’s how Caspary, a technical economist who had studied economics and reactor safety, ended up in the plenary chamber of the European Parliament. That was in 2004. Caspary was 28.
In the Strasbourg plenum, Caspary sits in the third row not far from Manfred Weber (CSU), the head of the Christian Democrat (EPP) group. When Caspary takes the floor, he sometimes lets himself be carried along even more by the furor of a Young Union politician than by the composure of a long-serving MEP. Now 46, he and his wife have five children between the ages of two and 15.
Moderator at the combustion car ban
For 13 years, Caspary did substantive work in the European Parliament. He raised his profile as an expert on trade policy. While the Greens, for example, have rejected every agreement, Caspary has voted for them out of conviction. And it fills him with satisfaction that, for example, the Green Sven Giegold, who as a European still instigated campaigns against TTIP, now has to bring the trade agreement between the EU and Canada (Ceta) to ratification in his new role as state secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs. “The Greens are making sentiment-focused policy, we are making subject-focused policy,” Caspary says.
When Herbert Reul, who until then had been chairman of the group of CDU/CSU members of the European Parliament, became interior minister in NRW in Armin Laschet’s cabinet in 2017, Caspary, at the age of 41, prevailed in the German group as his successor. Andreas Schwab, district chief in South Baden, would also have been ready. Caspary is a power factor among the pro-Europeans in Parliament.
He leads the German group of Union deputies, which with 30 parliamentarians, is the largest national group of any party family in Strasbourg. Not always, but frequently, the German Union deputies vote with one voice. Criticism of Ursula von der Leyen’s course also repeatedly emerges from his squad. For the taste of the CDU/CSU, the German Commission President is always too much on the green track, for example, with the ban on combustion engines or agricultural policy. Caspary has repeatedly had to mediate as a moderator.
Full voting rights in the presidium
Caspary is also a number in his party. He is vice president of the state party. When he first ran for the post and it came down to a fight, then-party leader and Chancellor Angela Merkel was present and made no secret of the fact that Caspary had her sympathies. Caspary prevailed in the vote, but says in retrospect, “I don’t know if Merkel helped me or hurt me more.”
As head of the Strasbourg deputies, Caspary is entitled to a place in the inner circle of leadership of the federal party, the presidium. Initially, he had no voting rights in the rounds. But Caspary showed a sense of power. At a federal party conference, he pushed through an amendment to the statutes. Since then, the head of the German group in the EU Parliament has been a member of the presidium by virtue of his office and has full voting rights. Unlike, for example, the prime ministers. They are only present in an advisory capacity.
For five years, Caspary has already been leading the German Union deputies in the Strasbourg Parliament. Sometimes, he admits in an interview with Europe.Table, “I long for the times when I could work on content.” Markus Grabitz