Brussels waits to see who will govern Germany
The EU’s executive on Monday held off commenting on Germany’s elections, hitting pause until it sees what government emerges from negotiations to form a ruling coalition before extending congratulations.
That did not, however, stop prominent politicians in the European Parliament from speaking up.
Its speaker, David Sassoli, and others in the parliament’s Socialists and Democrats camp hailed the narrow victory of German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD).
Germany — the biggest economy in the EU and its most populous — is an indispensable pillar in the bloc with enormous influence over its processes, institutions and decisions.
It is also the homeland of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who served as defence minister under outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservative CDU-CSU bloc slumped to its worst showing in its seven-decade history.
“We do not have any comments to offer on the results of elections in Germany,” European Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant told journalists.
She noted that, while the Commission does usually congratulate new office-holders, “that is different from commenting on the results of an election at the national level which hasn’t yet resulted in a government being formed”.
The new government in Berlin — whether an SPD-led coalition or one with the CDU-CSU at its core — is expected to continue the pro-EU path Merkel has long charted.
The coalition partners in either configuration, though, could determine stances in key areas, for instance energy and the environment if Germany’s Greens get a seat at the table, or on reining in EU countries’ public debt should the Liberal FDP get a say.
The European Parliament’s left-of-centre speaker Sassoli backed Scholz and his SPD to take up the reins as Europe navigates a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Congratulations Olaf Scholz and SPD on your victory! After this historic crisis, there is no time to lose: Europe needs a strong and reliable partner in Berlin to continue our common work for a social and green recovery,” he wrote.
The leader of the Socialists and Democrats grouping in the parliament, Iratxe Garcia, also lent her support in a statement.
“This is very good news for the European Union, because he (Scholz) can bring new impetus to the reforms we need to adapt to the digital age and to respond to new global challenges by putting people first,” she said.
The European People’s Party, the biggest grouping in the European Parliament and the one counting MEPs from Merkel’s camp, offered no immediate public comment on the election results.