Will Germany's Europe policy change?

Even before the coalition talks begin in Germany, observers are speculating on how the outcome will affect Europe given that the potential coalition partners, the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens, have very different stances for example on the reforms proposed by the French president. Commentators conclude that it may not be such a bad thing if the talks drag on for a while.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Big ambitions but little leeway

Not only Merkel but also Macron and his European reform project are weaker after the elections, Le Figaro posits:

“Merkel's Germany, with which Macron had worked out an agreement for placing the EU on a new footing, was the lynchpin of his political strategy. ... It is certainly a very good thing that France is once again talking about Europe and making its voice heard. But words are nothing without power and the ability to act, as Barack Obama demonstrated. Merkel now lacks the political means to match her intentions, while Macron lacks the economic possibilities to implement his ambitions. The former can only display audacity on Europe if the latter is willing to radically transform our economic and social model with a French version of Agenda 2010 [the reforms introduced in Germany in the early 2000s under former SPD chancellor Gerhard Schröder].”

Spiegel Online (DE) /

They can take their time forming a government

It might not be such a bad thing if the formation of a new government in Germany takes a while, Spiegel Online speculates:

“Because it is in the area of European politics that the greatest potential for conflict among the parties that would form a Jamaica coalition lies. The FDP has taken a clear stance: as little integration as possible within the Eurozone, no transfers, no European monetary fund. But the CDU/CSU and in particular the Greens see this more pragmatically. With the FDP in government (and perhaps even an FDP politician as finance minister) Germany will hardly be able to adopt a constructive approach vis-à-vis Macron and his proposals. But as long as the process of forming a new government drags on, the caretaker government can accept all kinds of European compromises - and depict them as unavoidable. After all, one doesn't want to be left isolated in Europe.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Disagreements could create new balance

The outcome of the coalition talks in Germany will also influence the future policies of the EU, political analyst Daniela Schwarzer predicts in Kristeligt Dagblad:

“Perhaps the stickiest issue for the coalition parties will be the eurozone. The stances of the FDP and the Greens are opposed on this front, particularly when it comes to joint crisis management, mutual insurance mechanisms, and fiscal tools. But this struggle to find common ground may prove useful for the wider EU, as its leaders attempt to strike a balance between the responsibility of member governments and the eurozone-wide institutions that the monetary union needs to function effectively.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Liberal Europe rejoiced too soon

The success of the AfD shows that the problem of right-wing populism in Europe has by no means been resolved despite the defeat of Marine Le Pen in France, Hospodářské noviny comments:

“Many East Germans joined the Visegrád Group on Sunday, so to speak. The anti-refugee AfD scored its best results in the very place that took in the smallest number of refugees after 2015. There are parallels between the German populists and those now governing Poland and Hungary, as well as similar groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia: the fewer refugees there are in these places, the more they're demonized. ... What's more, the right-wing FPÖ will soon be joining the government in Austria. It seems Europe's liberals rejoiced too soon after the elections in France.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

EU ship sailing into uncertainty

Of all this year's elections those in Germany are the ones that are unexpectedly causing most trouble for the EU, groans the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Much will depend on the extent to which the far right minority manages to set the agenda in European policy. Without a pro-European consensus in Germany the EU will become a thing of the past. Worrying is also the east-west rift Juncker complained of that runs right through the middle of Germany. The success of the AfD in the east highlights a social climate that is not unlike that in Hungary or Poland. Men like Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaczyński in Poland will try to deepen the divide. Where the ship of Europe is headed is less clear after the elections than it was before them.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Citizens need a "protective Europe"

The EU must heed French President Macron's call for a more protective Europe after the German elections, Le Figaro urges:

“For Paris the news from Berlin is not so great. A weakened Merkel in her fourth term, dependent on her Eurosceptic partners and with the anti-European opposition biting her heels. Already, in the clamour of the Brussels battles, it's as if one could hear Emmanuel Macron helping Angela Merkel to avoid the blows. 'Mutti, watch out on the left! Watch out on the right!' ... The big unresolved questions like the migration crisis played a key role in the German populists' success. To save the EU, Berlin and Paris will have to build a 'Europe that protects'. Its citizens, its borders, its jobs and its competitiveness.”

Protagon.gr (GR) /

A cold wind is blowing over Greece

The election result is particularly bad news for Greece, Protogon comments:

“The coalition talks will be hard, and the FDP has already let it be known that it wants the post of finance minister. In the unlikely case that Angela Merkel agrees, the negotiations between the Greek ministers and Schäuble will seem like harmless small talk at a kid's birthday party by comparison. FDP leader Christian Lindner is a hardliner whose agenda includes the Grexit. If he joins the Euro Group, [Greek Finance Minister] Euklidis Tsakalotos and [Prime Minister] Alexis Tsipras will see what it means to come face to face with a neoliberal. And if Schäuble keeps his job, he'll be even less willing to compromise.”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

Grand coalitions are a burden on democracy

The heavy losses for both the parties that made up Germany's previous coalition government should give pause for thought to the Swedes, who will vote in a new parliament next year, Göteborgs-Posten warns:

“In the short term it can seem tempting for two traditionally dominant parties to join forces in a grand coalition so as to avoid parliamentary crises. ... In Sweden, trans-bloc coalitions and agreements are often seen as a way of keeping the [right-wing populist] Sweden Democrats out of government. However the example of Germany shows us that in the long term this tends to erode the opposition that is so important for a democracy, and can result in the emergence of brand new political camps. The CDU and SPD had to suffer two bitter electoral defeats to realise that.”