This week will be marked by the election of the new German Chancellor in the Bundestag.
As Angela Merkel prepares to leave the German and European political scene, on which she has left her mark forever, I would like to reiterate the gratitude of the EPP political family to the one who will always be “Angela” to us.
With her unique style, Angela Merkel embodied politics in the best sense of the word, a politics that places the principles of responsibility and dialogue above all else, that prefers to unite rather than divide, that takes decisions on the basis of a methodical analysis of the facts.
As the embodiment of calm and confident leadership, Angela Merkel will remain a source of inspiration for a whole generation of politicians.
Olaf Scholz, who has constantly presented himself as her worthy successor, should not change his position once he settles into the Chancellery.
On European issues in particular, I expect the ‘traffic light’ coalition to adopt a logic of continuity.
Last September, the Germans made an unambiguous choice for a pro-European orientation. The Eurosceptics of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and The Left (die Linke) parties lost the elections, and the parties at the centre of the political spectrum, which all have the desire to strengthen Europe in common, emerged victorious from the ballot box.
There is no doubt that even with Armin Laschet at the helm, the German Government would have shown strong European ambition and set the EU on the road to a new beginning.
On the other hand, while I welcome the ambition to move forward on several pending European projects, I fear that Olaf Scholz’s government will not be able to make concrete progress in three fundamental areas.
First of all, in the area of foreign and security policy: I strongly doubt that the ‘traffic light’ coalition will be able to overcome the reluctance of the Greens to build a real Europe of defence. We must expect new blockages in this area, despite the urgent need for Europeans to take security into their own hands.
Secondly, with regard to immigration: faced with the unprecedented situation at the border with Belarus, I expected the German Government to speak out firmly, condemning the inadmissible attacks on our external borders and reaffirming that Germany will not, under any circumstances, tolerate any attempt to destabilise the EU. I regret that the terms of the coalition agreement remain very vague in this respect.
Finally, while Europe and the world are still grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, I would have liked to have seen a clearer commitment in the government contract to strengthening the European Union’s prerogatives in the field of health and to building a real European Health Union.