Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

  • 'It would incredibly damaging for Europe if Germany doesn't come up with a government soon' (Photo: Consilium)

German chancellor Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

"It's not in our interest that things get tense," French president Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, adding that the situation was creating "real risks".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Dutch foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra said the delay in forming a new German government was "bad news for Europe."

In Berlin, even German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that "incomprehension and worry would be big in particular in our European neighbours, if political powers did not meet their responsibilities."

The failure of talks between Merkel's Christian Democrats, the liberal FPD and the Greens on Sunday "is clearly a problem for the EU," noted Yann-Sven Rittelmeyer, from the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels.

"There is a need of leadership at EU level, and the EU cannot have momentum without Germany," he told EUobserver.

In Brussels, officials have tried to dispel concerns that Merkel's difficulties will send the EU into a crisis.

No pause

"Europe will not pause during this period," the European Commission's spokesman said on Tuesday.

He added that as planned, the EU executive will present its proposal on the future of the economic and monetary union (EMU) on 6 December, ahead of a eurozone summit on 15 December.

"We're not going to grind to a halt," an EU diplomat told this website.

He admitted that some decisions could be delayed, on issues like migration or energy. But the diplomat said that discussions on the so-called EU leaders' agenda on the future of the EU, like the EMU roadmap at the summit, will not be blocked.

"There is a caretaker government in Germany," he insisted. "We know who is in charge. It's still Merkel."

But behind the scenes, a high-level official from a member state admitted, "there is some concern that Germany will continue to be passive in the European debate."

Recent proposals on the EU's future by Macron and from the European Commission "are waiting for an answer from Germany," Rittelmeyer noted.

'Jamaica' not dead yet

In Germany, "the show is not over and intense negotiations are going on to try to rescue the 'Jamaica' coalition," said Judy Dempsey, from the Carnegie Europe think tank in Berlin.

But if the political deadlock "drags on, or even if there is new elections, or even a minority government, it's a big setback for Europe," she told EUobserver.

She insisted that "it would incredibly damaging for Europe if Germany doesn't come up with a government soon."

"Something has to be decided in the next two weeks," she said. "Germany and Europe cannot afford this for long."

"There will be risks, there would be uncertainty, no decision would be made, unless Macron can do it with some allies," she said.

With Merkel tied up by a lack of a government, "Macron is alone at the top now in Europe," she added.

Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP

Reinhard Buetikofer, who participated in the failed coalition talks, puts the blame squarely on FDP being 'afraid to govern', but hopes "there will be a lot of phone calls" to German politicians on the consequences of the deadlock in Berlin.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us