18th Mar 2018

Merkel challenger urges more time for Greece

Freshly appointed as the centre-left's candidate to the German chancellery in 2013, ex-finance minister Peer Steinbrueck has criticised Angela Merkel for not telling Germans the "truth" about Greece: that it will take both more time and money to help Athens.

"In the case of Greece, we cannot tighten the screws any further. The Greeks must stand by their commitments, but we must also give them more time," Steinbrueck told Welt am Sonntag in an interview published just two days after he was nominated by the Social-Democrats, currently the main opposition party to Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said his party would not on principle oppose a third bailout for Greece, but it would depend on the conditions attached.

A Greek eurozone exit, however, would be "devastating" as it would have severe economic consequences, said the former minister of finance, who served in coalition government with Merkel in 2005-2009.

Steinbrueck said Merkel "must finally tell German people the truth: Greece will not be able to borrow money on the capital markets in the coming seven or eight years. We will have to help it until then."

But his views may not be as popular with the public, which still overwhelmingly prefers Merkel and her tougher stance on Greece.

An opinion poll published by Bild last week showed Steinbrueck's SPD party at 37 percent, 10 points behind Merkel's Christian Democrats. And some two thirds of respondents said they did not expect him to replace Merkel as chancellor next year.

With one year to go before the elections take place, Steinbrueck still has plenty of time to catch up in the polls. For now, he is also rejecting a remake of the grand coalition with the Christian Democrats.

"We want to oust this government. We want to make sure it isn't just partially replaced but completely replaced with an SPD-Greens government," he said at a press conference on Friday.

In a bid to put some content into his campaign, Steinbrueck has tabled a paper on banking reforms including a financial transactions tax and a single banking supervision for eurozone banks.

For the SPD, the paper is "a big step in taking on the powerful and aggressive bank lobby," said Ernst Dieter Rossmann, an SPD member of the Bundestag. "He's got our full support on that."

Merkel surprisingly popular in Spain

Half of Spaniards approve of German leader Merkel's leadership in the euro-crisis, while blaming their own politicians for the economic gloom.

Greece should get more time, France says

France is in favour of giving Greece more time to meet its bailout conditions. Meanwhile, German media says there are plans to increase the EU bailout fund to €2 trillion.

Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks

Angela Merkel - who started her fourth term as Germany's chancellor earlier this week - is wasting no time on big issues like eurozone reforms. On Friday she is meeting Emmanuel Macron where the two will seek common ground.

EU insists on US tariffs exemption

Europe is "an ally, not a threat", the EU Commission says - as the US is poised to impose duties in steel and aluminium. Common action on Chinese steel overcapacity could help diffuse the crisis.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere