We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

February 20, 2018

Merkel and her friends

The SPD referendum begins today, accompanied by an opinion poll that shows - for the first time - the AfD overtaking the SPD. Insa is usually ahead of the others in picking up big electoral shifts, which means that the first part of the campaign will be accompanied by other polls of the SPD weakening. As we have pointed out before, this constitutes an ambiguous factor of uncertainty in the referendum. It may scare SPD voters into avoiding an election, or it may encourage them to end their own party's misery, especially if they believe that Angela Merkel will end up running a minority government.

The more important political news yesterday is Merkel's appointment of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the prime minister of the Saarland region, as the party's general secretary, the most important party job after the lead, and often a springboard for a future leadership candidate. This was how Merkel got into the job herself. Merkel went out of her way to deny that this has a signal effect. Merkel will make further announcements - about the CDU ministers in her cabinet - on Sunday. 

Berthold Kohler makes the point in his commentary that Merkel has chosen the politician who is closest to her, rather than a critic. He says that Merkel does not understand the mood in her party as it confronts the AfD as a rival.

It appears to us that Merkel has a different narrative to those in the CDU who are demanding a shift in politics, and who had hoped that Jens Spahn, the young conservative finance secretary, would become general secretary or obtain a senior ministerial post. It is possible that she might promote him to the cabinet  in order to appease her rivals from the right. But the appointment of Kramp-Karrenbauer, known in Germany by her initials AKK, suggests that the party will keep its centrist course.

Show Comments Write a Comment

February 20, 2018

UK threatens to block EU payments if there is no progress on trade

It looks like the Brexit negotiations are hitting another crisis - as they did last autumn - with both sides inserting threats of sanctions into their negotiating positions. We do not want to overplay these developments so long as they don't get out of hand. Much of it is the usual noise that accompanies bilateral negotiations. 

One of the open questions about Brexit is what will happen if the EU cannot agree a trade deal with the UK. There is a clear time inconsistency problem because the withdrawal agreement under Article 50 will be concluded by October and ratified soon afterwards, while the future trade deal could take several years to conclude. A narrow deal could be negotiated and adopted at EU level itself, but the UK is seeking a wider trade agreement - a so-called mixed agreement - which will require the approval of all national and some regional parliaments both for preliminary application and final ratification. In other words, there will come a time in the post-Brexit negotiations when the EU is no longer in full control of the process.

Bloomberg has an important story that the UK is drawing up a contingency plan to halt Brexit payments if the EU procrastinates on the trade deal - or even if the EU does not offer the UK the deal it wants. This is a bit of a nuclear-option threat. The whole idea of the Art 50 process, from the perspective of the EU, is to ensure budgetary certainty and to guarante the rights of EU citizens in the UK, no matter what. If the UK already threatens not to observe what it will agree under Art 50, and to use what has been agreed as a future bargaining chip, it throws doubts on the value of the Art 50 deal itself. At the same time, there are no genuine solution to the time inconsistency problem because the EU has no way of guaranteeing the conclusion of a mixed trade agreement. 

The UK is currently playing a good cop - bad cop strategy. Theresa May herself held out the possibility of a close relationship in security co-operation with the EU, both internally and externally, on areas such as the European arrest warrant, the fight against cyber-crime, and data exchange. We agree with the analysis by Bronwen Maddox at the Institute for Government who writes that, if there is any hope of a bespoke deal, then surely this must be in the area of security where the UK has much to offer. She cites that their may be possible objections from some member states, like Denmark which has its own bilateral security deal with the EU - having opted out of the common security and defence policy in the Maastricht Treaty. To get a deal on foreign and security co-operation, the real constraint is time, though.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • November 13, 2017
  • A pro-European list: Wauquiez' nightmare
  • Catalan separatism isn't going away
  • Why oh why does Germany behave the way it does?
  • Why the four freedoms matter
  • February 01, 2017
  • Do Republicans have a plan B if Fillon falls?
  • Unforgiven
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 31, 2018
  • Hans Werner Sinn demands German euro exit
  • The politics of the SPD’s links to Russia
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 21, 2018
  • SPD ministers want to continue grand coalition
  • February 12, 2018
  • What the euro debate is really about
  • How Brexit can still falter
  • July 05, 2017
  • Europe’s next migration crisis
  • Philippe: French need to kick spending addiction
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 08, 2018
  • A renewed willingness on both sides to cut a Brexit deal
  • Latvian politics in turmoil after huge populist gains
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • April 13, 2017
  • Did Russia influence the Brexit vote?
  • All good between Germany and the US now?
  • October 18, 2016
  • The self-destruction of Francois Hollande
  • Brexit psychotherapy
  • At least three candidates for the PvdA leadership
  • The unbelievable hypocrisy of Mario Monti
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 01, 2018
  • After the referendum, more turmoil in Macedonia
  • What will happen if the UK parliament votes No?
  • Barnier's no-thanks works much better than a yes-please
  • May 25, 2018
  • Rejected by US, Germany is turning towards China...
  • ...and France is turning to Russia
  • UK ties Galileo to security partnership
  • Germans are discovering miniBoTs
  • January 17, 2018
  • Labour smashes No Brexit dreams
  • A new political bargain in Portugal?
  • September 13, 2017
  • Why the Turkey negotiations will continue
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 25, 2016
  • The costs of Brexit
  • Redefining corruption
  • Greek government shocked, shocked...
  • The costs of Brexit
  • Redefining corruption
  • Greek government shocked, shocked...
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 05, 2018
  • Unilateral Brexit revocation is possible, but only until March 29
  • French government suspends diesel tax - too little, too late?
  • Schauble supports Merz
  • November 13, 2018
  • Peak Salvini?
  • Protest uberisation
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • October 01, 2018
  • After the referendum, more turmoil in Macedonia
  • What will happen if the UK parliament votes No?
  • Barnier's no-thanks works much better than a yes-please
  • September 10, 2018
  • Steadfast Juppé stays true to embattled Macron
  • Sweden’s Democrats and Germany’s AfD: they don’t win elections, but they set the political agenda
  • Is Boris going to challenge Theresa May?
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • July 23, 2018
  • A Watergate affair for Macron?
  • Irish insist hard border is politically impossible
  • July 04, 2018
  • Trump to confront Merkel head-on over Nato
  • European choices in response to Trump
  • On the paradox of disembarkation centres
  • June 18, 2018
  • Some thoughts on the future of Europe
  • The end of Spanish income moderation?
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • May 21, 2018
  • Another snap election in the UK? Tories are preparing
  • Merkel and Putin - the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
  • May 08, 2018
  • Macron and the technocratic republic
  • Philippe's silent offer to the SNCF unions
  • On the ordoliberal utopia of a debt-free state
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • April 13, 2018
  • German support for eurozone reform next to zero...
  • ... and no support for France on Syria either
  • A French sermon
  • Why the euro endures
  • April 04, 2018
  • On the SPD’s U-turn on Russia
  • What if the UK had adopted the euro?
  • March 27, 2018
  • The IMF's proposals for eurozone reform
  • No concessions from Erdogan
  • Will the UK be shut out of Galileo on Brexit?
  • March 19, 2018
  • Waiting for Germany
  • Russia’s friends
  • Can the Commons force an extension of the Art 50 period?
  • March 12, 2018
  • German industry is starting to panic about Brexit
  • March 06, 2018
  • Will Italy exit the eurozone? Of course not. But it's the wrong question.
  • Slovakia's political crisis
  • Are we heading for a trade war?
  • March 01, 2018
  • A journalist's murder and Fico's administration
  • How should Europe respond to Trump?
  • Why economic survival is not sufficient for the sustainability of the eurozone
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • February 23, 2018
  • The politics behind the Novartis case
  • German decision on diesel cars postponed
  • The Le Pens
  • February 21, 2018
  • Whom do Wauquiez' indiscretions serve?
  • Latvian claims and counterclaims
  • Some observations about euro-ins and euro-outs
  • February 20, 2018
  • Merkel and her friends
  • UK threatens to block EU payments if there is no progress on trade