New German government: What is at stake for the EU?

Christoph Hasselbach, Deutsche Welle, 04.03.2018

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A new grand coalition of Chancellor Merkel's CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) depends on the approval of SPD members. But it's not just about forming a new government — it's about Germany's role in Europe. [...]

According to Janis Emmanouilidis of the Brussels-based think tank European Policy Center, this is not the case. However, Emmanouilidis believes it would produce "a sense of uncertainty, since one of the strongest players would not have a government able to make serious decisions." That is why Brussels is hoping very much that a grand coalition will be formed, he said. [...]

Merkel no longer 'Frau Europa'

But, Emmanouilidis said, even if a coalition is formed, Merkel will no longer hold the position as the undisputed leading figure in Brussels, which she was until the German parliamentary election. A few years ago, Time magazine named her "Frau Europa." When Donald Trump became US president, some English-language media even styled her as the leader of the entire Western world. [...]

Leading position only together with France

Emmanouilidis said if Merkel renews her chancellorship with another grand coalition, she "will continue to play a strong leading role in the future." Germany's importance remains unchanged, he said. "At the same time, there is a stronger balance between member states." Above all, the relationship between Germany and France is "more balanced today than it was a few years ago," he said.

In addition to the resurgence of France under Macron, the long exploratory talks and coalition negotiations in Germany have also played a role, said Emmanouilidis. Even though the euro crisis has lessened, and there are now other challenges, Germany's weight is no longer "the same as before," he said. He argues that, from a European perspective, this is "good news," because it will make it easier to implement common reforms. [...]

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