The Potential Leaders of the Post-Merkel Era

Leon Kohl is a graduate student in EU Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The German Social Democrats’ ratification of the coalition agreement with the Christian Democrats paved the way for Angela Merkel’s fourth term in office. Her time as chancellor has overlapped with four British prime ministers and four Taoisigh. However, her conservative CDU’s poor performance in the September general elections and the length of coalition negotiations have weakened her authority, leading to calls for … Read more

Germany approves Same Sex Marriage

Interesting development in Germany today as the Bundestag approved by 393-226. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel was opposed to the bill herself but still allowed a free vote for her Christian Democratic Union representatives in the Bundestag. Explaining her opposition to the bill she said;  “For me, marriage in German law is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favour of this bill today,” “I hope that the vote today not only … Read more

Did Taoiseach submit #Budget2012 to Berlin for approval?

The Irish government is under pressure this evening as it is having to deny Press Association reported rumours that it has allowed the German government to inspect the budget before it is brought to the Dáil next month (i.e. well before the democractically members of Oireachtas get to see it). The Irish Independent says that Reuters also had the same story, prompting swift denials from Government officials today. With market driven crises prompting the replacement of existing leaders with technocrats in Italy … Read more

Frau Bundeskanzlerin calls for coercive powers (aka a nascent transfer union)…

Just been sent a translation of an interview given on German TV by the Frau Bundeskanzlerin, aka Angela Merkel: “The Chancellor sees no alternative to the euro and calls again, on Gunther Jauch”s show, for a commitment to the stabilisation of Greece. Regarding the debt-crisis, Merkel very clearly demanded a strengthening of the stabilisation-responsibilities. For this purpose, she said, “there must be a mechanism, for the future, giving the right to intervene and coerce.” “We must work,” she went on,”for … Read more

Time for Europe’s ‘pusillanimous politicians’ to do the right thing?

Right, stop me if I’ve got this wrong, but it seems to me that Ireland faces two big problems: bank liquidity; and a debt mountain (which has just got way bigger). In order to service the first, the second (whilst already large due to a massive fall in tax receipts) has been made unfeasibly high (how’s that small panic attack going Robert?). The Economist has an obivious solution, but one that is not going to popular with European heads of … Read more

Statutory debt limits a quid pro quo for easing Irish debt?

Arthur Beesley on Enda Kenny’s European adventure (which given the times that are in it are more important than next week’s much reduced St Patrick’s day jaunt to the States): …one of Kenny’s prime tasks today is to convince his counterparts that his Government intends to make good on its pledge to doggedly pursue the fiscal path of rectitude and reform. In the first instance at least, this overrides debate on the interest rate and the banking debacle. Indeed, the … Read more

“To say Ireland is cornered might be to understate the situation.”

No agreement emerged on the details of Germany and France’s proposed “pact for competitiveness” for the eurozone at yesterday’s EU Council meeting. The Irish Times reports “a swathe” of opposition expressed at the meeting, while The Guardian editorialises against the German model – but accepts that the eurozone’s “economic rules do need an overhaul”. The EU Council press release is brief on the topic The economic situation The EU leaders discussed the economic situation in Europe and the eurozone. President Van … Read more

“Yet another crucial moment in the debt drama is upon us.”

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today, including caretaking Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and the Irish Times‘ Derek Scally has had sight of a draft paper on Frau Bundeskanzlerin’s “grand bargain”. From the Irish Times report The draft paper is low on detail but high on ambition: “to create a permanent connection between European competitiveness, growth and viable financial politics”. After presenting the broad brush strokes today, Dr Merkel wants EU leaders to discuss the detail and fill in the canvas by … Read more

Frau Bundeskanzlerin’s “grand bargain”

The BBC’s Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, has the latest murmurings from Europe on Frau Bundeskanzlerin’s “grand bargain”.  If true, it could indicate the price to be paid for renegotiating the terms of Ireland’s €85 billion bail-out… From Gavin Hewitt’s Europe blog Much of the detail is still being discussed. There are differences within the German cabinet and between eurozone countries. However, a broad outline is emerging. Germany will agree to increase the lending power of the main bail-out fund (the EFSF) so … Read more

Euro crisis: Frau Bundeskanzlerin answers history’s knock

History has been knocking for some time…  and, for good or ill, Angela Merkel “is perceived to set policy, pace and tone at every turn.”  But has the public been softened up sufficiently for historic change? In the Irish Times Derek Scally reports from Berlin In recent off-the-record briefings, the German leader has shown an unusual determination for the task she has set herself. She wants “real harmonisation”, not just “closer co-ordination”. After months of silent backing for her euro zone strategy, leaders in Scandinavia … Read more

Angela Merkel: “We will do what is necessary, everything else will be discussed step by step”

Eastern promises aside – and isn’t there something about beware [metaphorical] Greeks bearing gifts? – Portugal’s visit to those reluctant bond markets is described as “successful” by this Reuters report at the Irish Times –  €1.25 billion raised with the ten year yield kept below 7%. But as the BBC report points out Bond buying by the European Central Bank (ECB) had helped keep the yield below 7%. “Probably the most important thing for the 10-year yield is that the 7% level … Read more

“the euro crisis had a Christmas break, but it’s back”

With Portugal heading back to an increasingly reluctant bond market, the BBC’s Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, notes that “White knuckles have re-emerged in Brussels and other vulnerable European capitals.” Sometimes in Brussels I detect that the fight is less to save Portugal but more to ring-fence Spain. It’s the fourth-largest economy in the eurozone. If it needed rescuing the funds currently are probably not there. And then awkward questions would have to be asked – including whether Germans, in those … Read more

Euro crisis: “For good or ill, she is perceived to set policy, pace and tone at every turn.”

In the Irish Times Arthur Beesley’s assessment of the “mammoth task” European leaders face in the year ahead is well worth a read.  From the Irish Times article Strain and anxiety were everywhere in 2010. Merkel held the line against easy bailouts but her dogged intransigence on core principles led to accusations that she was making matters worse, not least in Ireland. From the summit room came whispered reports of shouting matches between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and ECB chief … Read more

Angela Merkel: “now we need more in common in our economic policies…”

EU leaders met in Brussels last week, for their last summit of 2010, and agreed the text of a “narrow revision” to the Lisbon Treaty – the conclusions of the European Council (16-17 December 2010) [pdf file]. In Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s view, “There isn’t a change of competence or a transfer of competence, so our strong view is that it is compatible with the Constitution.”  That would be without the need for a referendum.  And from the same Irish Times … Read more

Olli Rehn: “We are now in the decade of fundamental reforms”

As the Irish Times notes,  EU economics and monetary affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn has joined the head of the IMF in calling for “well coordinated action to safeguard stability in the euro area”.  From the Irish Times Mr Rehn told the conference [in Athens] that the euro area was determined to agree thorough reform to set up a new system of economic governance. “We will not stop until we have accomplished our mission. We are now in the decade of fundamental reforms,” … Read more

“Kaiser Wilhelm had a master plan for Europe…”

The Irish Times reports pointed criticism from former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of the recent German and French bickering in Europe.  And the report notes some interesting comments from Ulrike Guérot, Berlin head of the European Council on Foreign Relations… Leading European think tanks were more critical about Mr Schmidt’s “Wilhelmine” remarks. “As much as I see his point, that Germany is being perceived in Europe in a negative way, Kaiser Wilhelm had a master plan for Europe whereas in Berlin … Read more

Euro crisis: “Germany and France have to be of one opinion, otherwise Europe is sick”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are presenting a united front in public, and pointing at a global bank levy.  But, as the Irish Times reports, behind the scenes things are not well with the European leaders In an hurried show of unity, the two leaders penned a joint letter to the European Commission, urging it to speed up efforts to regulate EU financial markets. Ahead of yesterday’s meeting, French finance minister Christine Lagarde insisted that a new … Read more

Irish budget cuts: Not speculation, or existentialism but hard-nosed finance

Lot’s of really interesting snippets in the Sunday Business Post. Two struck me as worth noting. The first notes that after a narrowing of the interest rates on the bond market, Ireland’s rate of borrowing is getting more expensive again. By Friday evening, ten year Irish bond interest rates were trading at about 4.7%, about 2% above that of German debt and above that of Portugal. The second (and I suspect it’s not entirely unrelated) is the news that the … Read more