Will the grand coalition usher in a new Europe?
"A new start for Europe" is part of the title of Germany's coalition agreement, and the first stop for the newly sworn-in German chancellor and her foreign minister is France, where Macron's EU reform proposals will be discussed. But despite all the optimism journalists remain unconvinced.
Harm to the EU must be redressed
Angela Merkel must provide new impulses at least as far as Europe is concerned, Le Figaro urges:
“She remains cautious, insists that rules must be respected and advances slowly so as to take the wind out of the sails of her overenthusiastic partners. ... But Angela Merkel would in fact do well to be more proactive. So far now she has proved to be a good coalition leader, albeit without a real vision. But on the European level she could really leave her mark. And she must redress the damage she has caused - despite herself - to the EU. Her dangerous migration policy has strengthened populist and Eurosceptic parties across the continent. As Italy has shown, these forces are more on the offensive than ever, and a stagnating Europe would be all the more vulnerable to their attacks.”
Merkel must deliver
Frankfurter Rundschau has its doubts about whether the plans for EU reforms will be realised:
“Certainly, the coalition agreement indicates that the Eurozone is to become an insoluble community whose members vouch for each other financially. This is reminiscent of Macron's creed. But at this point the verbiage is similar to that according to which Germany and France plan to harmonise their corporate taxes. For seven years they've been planning to do this. On Friday the Chancellor is expected in Paris on the first official visit of her fourth term. You don't have to be a prophet to predict that, beset by populists, the EU partners will make a show of unity and announce their will to reform. But demonstrative unity isn't enough. The two leaders must deliver. Above all Merkel.”
Not a trace of dynamism
For Cicero the uninspired presentation of the coalition agreement does not bode well:
“With the best will in the world there's simply no sign of anything new, fresh or exciting in this new grand coalition à la Merkel. In fact there's more chance of the Rolling Stones playing a punk number the next time they perform in Germany than there is of this third edition of the sad permanent fixture named 'grand coalition' rousing Germany from its slumber the way Emmanuel Macron has done in France or Sebastian Kurz in Austria. Merkel was a little like Miss Sophie in Dinner for One [a comedy sketch in which the main character Miss Sophie constantly repeats: 'The same procedure as every year, James!']. Only she wasn't sitting alone at the table.”
Not all sunshine in domestic affairs either
Merkel will face major challenges in other areas besides foreign policy, Corriere del Ticino predicts:
“In rich Germany too, enclaves of poverty have emerged and differences between the living standards in the eastern and western states still exist. Moreover the integration of the growing Muslim population has not always been crowned with success. Added to the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism there is now the danger of tensions between representatives of the Kurdish community and Germany's Turkish population. In recent days Ankara called on the German government to take action following arson attacks against two mosques and the offices of a Turkish-German friendship association in Berlin, and attacks in southern Germany for which the Turkish regime holds Kurdish extremists responsible”