Saturday, May 28

Brussels trusts that Berlin will not change its current pro-European line


Correspondent in Brussels

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Since the defeat of the Chancellor’s party was known Angela Merkel, all the European institutions remained in a state of hibernation waiting to know the composition of the new government. Germany It is the largest and most powerful country in the EU and it is very difficult to imagine that a debate could be launched in Brussels without Berlin’s opinion on essential issues. In this case, the new chancellor is already known, Olaf Scholz, who has also been the head of the Economy in the previous cabinet and knows perfectly how things work in the EU and no one expects in any case a radical change of course with respect to what German politics has been up to now, although they are not unaware that This coalition of Social Democrats with Liberals and Greens is necessarily going to have a different approach to that of the old Grand Coalition, despite the fact that Scholz appeared as Vice Chancellor.

The most novel element in this case is the presence of the Greens in the Government and in the background it is not so much. In some way, the Christian Democrats also knew that if they had won the elections they would have had to agree with the environmentalists, so they had already designed a policy in this direction. It is no coincidence that Ursula von der Leyen, the current president of the Commission and former minister of Merkel, would have prepared the European legislature to guide it towards the environmental issue and the energy transition, so that in this field great turbulence cannot be expected either.

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European socialists hope the new government will support relaxing the rules of the Stability Pact

In any case, the most important issue awaiting the opinion of Germany is the economy, specifically knowing what will come after the Commission announces on January 1, 2023 the lifting of the safeguard clause of the Stability Pact. In other words, throughout 2022, it is necessary to decide whether when the period in which budgetary control obligations have been suspended ends, the countries should return to the previous limits of 3% maximum public deficit and 60% of GDP of debt, or if adjustments are to be designed and which ones.

The European socialists have great confidence that the new German Government will be in favor of relaxing these demands, which were the symbol of what in the previous crisis was called ‘austericide’ and that although it worked relatively well to restore stability to public accounts, also had a very high social cost.

In this case, the issue has also been constrained by the fact that the head of Economy in the new Government is the Liberal Christian Lindner, known for his radical positions when it comes to budget control and the deficit cap. But it is also known that the ecologist Robert Habeck he will be vice chancellor and will also have an important economic responsibility, related to the energy transition.

As in Merkel’s time

Naturally, all these issues have been agreed in the coalition government program that is based on the principle that neither party will be able to obtain 100 percent of what it aspired to have, but all are satisfied with the result in their set. So there is a good chance that things are basically as they used to be in Merkel’s time, when Germany in turn played the role of referee when the other countries disagreed, influencing their own positions through concessions. Scholz does not have the same character as Merkel, but when the outgoing chancellor started, she also did not have the prestige and the predicament with which she says goodbye.

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France is by far the country most strongly associated with Germany within the EU, to the point that it is considered that for things to work it is essential that Paris and Berlin agree. President Emmanuel Macron it has welcomed the new German government because the Liberals are in the formula, which gives it a certain familiarity with that part of the coalition. And Macron also hopes that the French presidency semester, which begins on January 1, will be the occasion to demonstrate its ability to lead European debates while still offering Germany the possibility that its sensitivity is taken into account.

As for the European institutions, it is clear that Germany is now increasing the weight of the Social Democrats in general, which changes the balance and may lead to some tensions in the European institutions. In the European Parliament to begin with, because now the Italian socialist David Sassoli He has decided that he wants to continue in the post, even if it contradicts the previous pact with the European PP.

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