Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Germany will have a new government ... perhaps

The news is that Angela Merkel has managed to come to some sort of an agreement with the SPD and will, all being well, be able to form a new Grand Coalition government (worked so well last time, did it not) by Christmas.

All members of the SPD will be balloted on whether they agree and that may yet derail the process, though, as ever, it is hard to imagine them not wanting to be one of the governing party. There is cautious rejoicing in the EU institutions and its minions as there are high hopes that further integrationist measures will be pushed through once Chancellor Merkel can start paying attention to anything other than negotiating with her opponents.

As EUObserver reports, the new Coalition document does not propose any changes in the eurozone but wants more powers for the European External Action Service (EEAS):
The new coalition government wants to strengthen the post of the High Representative for foreign and security policy, currently held by Catherine Ashton. With her mandate coming to an end next year, Germany wants to improve the way her diplomatic service (EEAS) reacts to and seeks to prevent crises.

EU ambassadors abroad should focus more on "functional" rather than "representative" tasks. Foreign policy, trade and development aid should also be "better linked" and decided in closer cooperation between the EU commission and the EEAS.

"We are in favour of further linking civilian and military instruments of the EU and improving military capacities for crisis prevention and conflict resolution," the draft reads.
This is unlikely to happen though various structural changes will be pushed through so governments and foreign ministries will be finding that ever more of the so-called diplomacy is done at the EU level to a purpose nobody has yet worked out. Just what are those common interests? Do we know? For instance, the Grand Coalition document wants a special link with Russia. Yes, the country that has just bullied Ukraine into refusing a trade and association agreement with the EU. Would that really be in the interests of European countries such as the Baltic States, Poland or Finland?
The Eastern Partnership - a policy initiative for the six countries on EU's eastern fringe - Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan - only has one paragraph in the Germam coalition agreement saying that association, free trade agreements and visa facilitation deals are the "best instruments" for them.

It combines calls for modernising the Russian state with a push for EU visa freedom for Russian businessmen, scientists, civil society activists and students.

The new German government wants to push for "more coherence" in EU's policy towards Russia. With Poland involved in a special three-way dialogue with Germany and Russia, the Grand Coalition pledges to "take into account the interests of our common neighbours" when dealing with Russia.

In this context, they count on Russia to make some headway in solving the frozen conflicts in the eastern neighbourhood, "expecting progress" in particular the splinter region of Transnistria where Russian troops are massed on the Moldova-Ukrainian border.
One can certainly count on President Putin in these matters. Indeed, one can count on large squadrons of pigs to take off within the hour.

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