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Opinion

New German coalition on Europe

The section in the coalition agreement between CDU, CSU and SPD in Germany on Europe has the title “Starkes Europa” – “Strong Europe”. Anyone interested can have a look, starting on page 156 (if able to speak a little German…)

The contents of this section is rather disappointing however. It points towards the fact that ‘Europe’ was not really high on the SPD’s priority list going into the coalition negotiations. The list of policy objectives reads pretty much like a continuation of what as been policy under Merkel before. While starting of with stating that European integration is the most important task of Germany (wow quite a grandiose statement), the text continues with a rather vague endorsement of a stronger EP and better inclusion of national parliaments into the European decision making process. The call for uniform electoral rules for EP elections might pass as a good idea. But that’s almost it. What follows is either obscure (trying to ensure that German is truly equal to English and French in everyday practice) or plainly a restatement of the ideological commitments Merkel has now (surprisingly…) been able to stick to for a while (meaning, primarily a very clear refusal of any communalisation of debt). The text further teaches us that apparently the imperative to reduce sovereign debt levels is a lesson rightfully drawn from the crisis. This points towards two things: First, the real and more complex underlying reasons of the crisis were either too complex or politically not opportune to state in the agreement. And second, the SPD obviously failed to introduce the alternative view of the crisis and its solution (it is, for the most part, not a direct result of excessive sovereign debt and thus cannot simply be resolved by curbing state spending) into the text.

There is a surprising glimmer of hope however. A call for the reindustrialisation of Europe sounds like an “I told you so” in light of Germany’s still heavy focus on industrial production. But this idea points into the right direction of re-balancing the European economy and reacting to more fundamental processes in the development of the international economy and also production as such. (For more on this have a look at Anthony Giddens’ new book 😉 )

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