What will the grand coalition change in the EU?

Germany's CDU/CSU and SPD have dedicated the opening chapter of their coalition agreement to the subject of Europe. The parties want to pay more into the EU budget, cooperate more closely with Paris, help ailing member states and stimulate investment in the Eurozone. Journalists find the announcements promising - albeit for different reasons.

Open/close all quotes
Le Soir (BE) /

A welcome shift of power

Le Soir is delighted at the new balance of power between France and Germany:

“With a Macron who seems to succeed at everything he does and a weakened Merkel at the head of a hard-won coalition, a very different Franco-German couple has now stepped onto the stage. France is a little stronger and more optimistic, while Germany, its cutting edge blunted, is less arrogant than when it dictated the way forward during the years of crisis. And there's no reason to complain, as long as the readjustment doesn't go too far in either direction. Some fear that without the counterweight of Britain after the Brexit and with a weakened German government, France will soon become the alpha male in Europe. But we're nowhere near that point yet.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Positive signal to Poland

Rzeczpospolita sees the coalition agreement as an offer to Poland to help reshape the EU:

“A whole section at the start of the agreement is dedicated to Poland; only France is mentioned more often. Poland has emerged as a special partner without whom a reform of the EU is impossible. ... No less significant is that the coalition agreement makes it clear that a small EU that could endanger Poland's interests is not on the agenda. The announced deeper cooperation among the euro countries appears to consist of cosmetic changes more than anything else. Germany doesn't want to divide the EU. ... We cannot reject the offer the coalition agreement makes to Poland.”

Kaleva (FI) /

More money for Europe

Kaleva also expects major changes:

“The transfer of the finance ministry to the Social Democrats alone indicates fundamental changes to Germany's economic policy are imminent, a new stance on strengthening the EU and on mutual responsibility in the Eurozone. ... Germany is likely to contribute more generously than before to the EU budget, but it certainly won't want to settle the bills of indebted members in the future either. ... Mutual responsibility among the euro countries is therefore likely to mean greater responsibility for investors than for the states. That would also be easier to swallow for Finland, which has toed Germany's line on stringent budget discipline.”

La Croix (FR) /

Paris and Berlin must protect Europe

The new edition of the grand coalition in Germany is a chance for enhanced European cooperation, La Croix believes:

“Both in Paris and Berlin, parties in favour of closer cooperation on central topics will be in power. That cooperation will no doubt take the form of a key Franco-German initiative in the spring. Unlike at the start of the millennium when pro-Europeans were inspired by federal dreams, the current resolve is born of a sense of urgency faced with a disordered world in which the risks are global and the big powers must be stood up to. For Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz it's time to stand side by side in the name of specifically European ideas of life, society and solidarity.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

This could be the end of austerity

The SPD foreign and finance ministers Schulz and Scholz in particular will bring about changes in Berlin's EU policy, NRC Handelsblad predicts:

“It was known that the coalition has ambitious plans for Europe. Now there's also a personal shift. Over the last eight years Merkel's CDU and austerity hawk Wolfgang Schäuble have had a monopoly on EU policy in Berlin. Merkel is staying in charge but she will soon be flanked by two Social Democrats [Schulz und Scholz]. ... It wouldn't be surprising if this team were more open to making compromises for EU countries with weaker economies than the Merkel/Schäuble tandem.”

Público (PT) /

Merkel remains at the helm

Público, on the other hand, doesn't see the SPD's key positions as all too important:

“The party leaders have turned their weaknesses into strengths to form a government that is the last possibility to keep Germany at the centre of Europe's renewal. ... The SPD's gains in securing two key ministries for EU policy shouldn't be underestimated: the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is to become finance minister, succeeding Schäuble. A rather orthodox social democrat who didn't criticise his predecessor's enforced austerity policy all too openly. ... Martin Schulz is expected to take over as foreign minister but his scope for action will be considerably restricted because Merkel will retain a firm grip on EU policy.”

Finanz und Wirtschaft (CH) /

Grand coalition paves way for transfer union

With the new coalition agreement the EU is on its way to becoming a transfer union in which wealthy states continuously subsidise poorer ones, Finanz und Wirtschaft criticises:

“What the top politicians in Berlin will be less concerned about than ever is all the ratified twaddle in the EU treaties. If he really does become foreign minister, Euro-turbo Schulz will do all he can to push through the visions of French president Emmanuel Macron at the expense of the German taxpayers. More than a few champagne corks will fly today in the Elysée. The way has been paved for the transfer union, which will be foisted on the German people - who don't have the slightest say in the matter - with the usual flowery phrases.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

EU Superstate is coming

Now the advocates of deeper European integration will call the shots in Germany, The Daily Telegraph writes, and sees its EU-critical stance reaffirmed:

“With the support of only 20 per cent of German voters, Mr Schulz has taken it upon himself to determine the fate of Europe. He has driven Mrs Merkel further onto the territory of European integration and eurozone reform being championed by Emmanuel Macron, the French president. .... The momentum towards greater integration is seemingly unstoppable. Those in this country still calling for Brexit to be reversed need to explain how the UK could ever possibly agree to go along with this emerging superstate.”