Brussels waits for the Germans to arrive

German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the European Parliament. (European Parliament Audiovisual Services).

German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the European Parliament. (European Parliament Audiovisual Services).

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy in a four short lines announcement congratulating Angela Merkel on her victory in yesterday’s elections repeats her name twice, plus once in the title. This is rather too much in a fifty words official statement. The announcement written in the usual official language avoids celebrating the CDU-CSU victory but the fact that the Chancellor’s name is repeated three times, leaves no doubt that the European Council President is more than happy about the results of the German elections.

This is not a reprehensible reaction per se, but at least semiotically, it undermines the image of impartiality of the Council President, a standard prerequisite in this office. Of course Rompuy is a politician and his affiliations are neither hidden nor illegitimate. In any case the new German government under Angela Merkel will seek an even more influential position in the Brussels universe, after CDU’s triumph. This will facilitate Berlin’s representatives in all European Union decision-making bodies, to impose their views in crucial EU affairs and more so in Eurozone matters.

Uneasy partners

The European Sting writer Suzan A. Kane this morning presented the two most important Eurozone issues which are pending for months, waiting for the German elections to be held. It’s Greece’s third aid package and the enactment of a liquidation mechanism for Eurozone’s failing banks (Single Resolution Mechanism- SRM). Both issues are of urgent nature but again nothing will be decided in Brussels until Berlin has a new government and this new Merkel administration reaffirms or reformulates its positions on both those matters.

Now however it is certain that Merkel will need a partner to support a new government of hers in the Bundestag. The socialists of SPD are the most obvious, if not compulsory solution. The Greens and the left Die Linke party are excluded in first reading. The socialists however will not be an accommodating collaborator. The problem is that the grand coalition government formed by CDU and SPD back in the 2005-2009 worked negatively for the socialists. They proved unable since then to re-emerge as a credible contestant of the lead position in German politics. Given that? negotiations for a new grand coalition administration may drag on for quite some time.

However the two pending major issues, which haunt the European Union and more so the Eurozone? cannot wait much longer. The Greek tragedy needs urgently a hopefully final epilogue chapter to be written, while the creation of a resolution mechanism for failing Eurozone’s banks is a much more important affair.

SPD’s positions matter

In this respect the opinion of SPD for those two issues will play an important role, if and when the socialists decide to participate in the new German government. As far as the Athens enigma is concerned, the socialists have voted in the Bundestag for the two previous Greek aid programmes. On top of that, during the electoral campaign, SPD’s leadership under Peer Steinbrueck and Chairman Sigmar Gabriel, tried to expose Merkel as holding back the truth that Greece will certainly need more help from the German taxpayer, indirectly accepting this prospect themselves.

It’s not clear however what the German socialist believe about the other thorny Eurozone issue, namely the bank resolution mechanism. Are they willing to go along with Merkel and her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who have supported a weak, decentralised and uncertain version of SRM, without access to back up funding/loans from the wealthy European Stability Mechanism?

In conclusion the truth is that Brussels cannot do anything to effectively press the German political elite to hasten their negotiations and swiftly form a government. Consequently the EU will wait for Berlin to come up with a final decision on all those questions. In this way the German position of influence in Brussels is indirectly reaffirmed.

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