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

November 06, 2019

Could the German coalition fall over the basis minimum pension? Quite possibly.

We have tried to avoid getting too deep into the German debate on the basis minimum pension, an idea pushed by the SPD and rejected by the CDU. Depending on the outcome of the SPD leadership election, this might well turn into a critical issue for the future of the grand coalition. 

But it is the politics within the CDU that is really interesting. As Eckart Lohse und Markus Wehner dissect in FAZ this morning, this debate is tangled up with the succession of Angela Merkel. Next to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer there are two politicians who are now positioning themselves for the top job. One is Markus Söder, CSU chairman, who is playing the uncharacteristic role of nice guy. His strategy is for the CDU candidates to self-destruct, and then to be asked to step in. The other is Friedrich Merz, who is planning a big programmatic speech at the CDU party congress on November 22 and 23 in Leipzig. As the authors explain, Merz will not be stupid enough to challenge AKK for the leadership. He wants to win the battle for ideas, and claim the leadership role afterwards.

AKK has clearly spotted the danger, which is why she is not compromising on the minimum pension. The CDU's position is that there can be no minimum pension without a detailed assessment of the claimant's assets, and those of their children. The SPD rejects means-testing because it would massively limit the political appeal of the basic pension. For one of the teams in the SPD leadership race - Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans - the basic minimum is the critical issue for the future of the grand coalition. This is why the SPD leadership contest matters more than usual this time.

Show Comments Write a Comment

November 06, 2019

Philippe to present new immigration policies

Édouard Philippe is to present twenty measures on immigration today. Among the measures are: a quota system for skilled legal migrants in professions where there is a shortage of workers, and to deprive new asylum seekers of access to basic health care for three months. Every year the French government will issue a new list of professions for every region where expertise from abroad is welcome. But there are already voices warning that this is just hot air with few relevant measures.

Jean-Francis Pécresse warns that economic immigration is a measure for the elites, not for the masses, and as such it will not take the wind out from the wings of Le Pen's anti-migration rhetoric. It is one thing to explain why the French economy can only benefit from these economic migrants, as valuable tax payers who help to grow the economy. But immigration is more than just about economic matching. Canada has a similar system in place, and the erosion of social consent to accepting those migrant workers today is palpable. 

Depriving the newly arrived asylum seekers of health care is seen as a gift to the far right but infuriates the left. And, on the controversial issue of what to do with illegal migration and rejected asylum seekers, Emmanuel Macron is treading much more carefully. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

November 06, 2019

The sharp edge of soft power

Zaki Laidi makes the point that in today's world the distinction between soft and hard power is blurry. This distinction made in international relations describes political influence as soft if it is attracting or co-opting others, and hard when it is coercing others to do what you want them to do. It is the carrot versus the stick. 

The EU always considered itself as the champion of soft power. But in his Project Syndicate column Laïdi notes that today traditional soft power areas are taking on a sharp edge and are being used to coerce others. Trade, legal standards and technology are prime examples. Donald Trump uses trade policy to harm competitors, with significant consequences for the EU. As for legal standards we see national laws being applied extraterritorially for political ends, again not by the EU but by US. Washington regularly uses the dollar to sanction activities that are against its foreign policy interests. European companies are at the receiving end of these sanctions and, unless the euro becomes a relevant international currency, these firms remain vulnerable to US threats. And then there is technology. Huawei's 5G dominance is seen by the US as carrying considerable security risks. The US could decide to support Huawei's European competitors, Ericsson and Nokia, to counterbalance this. But the EU cannot do this due to its competition rules. 

The EU is therefore facing new dynamics in international relations. Will the EU be able to find its role in the game of sharpened soft power? Will the outspoken Josep Borrell or Phil Hogan have any weight in this new world of coercion? The EU's complex decision-making process, its rules and power balance, are not made to use policy instruments to exert power in foreign policy. A lot of energy gets lost in hide-and-seek games. But the EU cannot ignore the new reality either. A wake-up call maybe, but not one that is likely to be acted upon.

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 17, 2020
  • How Putin could divide the EU over Belarus
  • The impossible mission of forming a federal government in Belgium
  • September 23, 2019
  • Corbyn’s last big battle
  • Germany’s CO2 compromise meets all targets - except the climate targets
  • November 13, 2018
  • Peak Salvini?
  • Protest uberisation
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • February 28, 2017
  • Is Hamon losing the right wing of his party?
  • Something we just don’t understand
  • Solve the problem
  • 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
  • March 11, 2020
  • While Italy is in lockdown, Germany allows football matches
  • Ireland grand coalition
  • May 31, 2019
  • Salvini’s frightening strength
  • The significance of Corbyn’s latest flipflop on the referendum
  • 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
  • November 09, 2017
  • From street protests to road closures
  • What Russia wants
  • January 31, 2017
  • Project fear against Italexit
  • On how not to frustrate Brexit
  • 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
  • June 29, 2020
  • Édouard Philippe - mayor or prime minister?
  • Sir Humphrey, R.I.P.
  • October 17, 2019
  • A dangerous game for the EU
  • After Brexit, get ready for a German EU budget rebate
  • February 04, 2019
  • Watch out for the resurgence in Tory unity
  • The gilets-jaunes' effect on the European elections
  • What did he possibly mean by that?
  • 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
  • September 14, 2017
  • Bravo Mr Juncker
  • ... what he said about the labour market
  • ... and what his speech means for Brexit
  • 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
  • July 14, 2020
  • Why the far-right might win in the end
  • December 02, 2019
  • Will pension reform protests spiral out of control?
  • Malta's PM resigns over murder case
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • September 12, 2018
  • It is easy to criticise Chequers but very hard to come up with an alternative
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal union
  • July 03, 2017
  • Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?
  • The softening Brexit
  • Macron's state of the nation address
  • 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
  • September 14, 2020
  • There is no silver bullet for the second wave
  • March 16, 2020
  • Why many of the Covid-19 statistics are misleading
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • March 18, 2019
  • May's deal still on the table. Don't rule it out.
  • EPP decision on Fidesz still open
  • On the defeat of liberalism
  • September 21, 2018
  • SPD ministers want to continue grand coalition
  • March 28, 2018
  • The real reason for the sanctions against Russia
  • Wishful thinking: Brexit edition
  • Wishful thinking: Future of euro edition
  • Wishful thinking: Italy edition
  • October 02, 2017
  • Catalonia recalls EU and eurozone instability
  • French trade unions increase pressure over labour reforms
  • Watch out for a political accident in the UK
  • Municipal elections boost Portugal's Socialists
  • April 10, 2017
  • Nein, nein, nein, und nein
  • Sounds like a bad Brexit story, but ain’t
  • On how not to exit the euro
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • 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 29, 2020
  • Why it is not €500bn
  • Is reshoring the answer to this pandemic?
  • January 22, 2020
  • Erdogan and European Libya diplomacy
  • On the importance of mutual recognition agreements in the Brexit trade talks
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • May 10, 2019
  • Target2 debate raises legitimate questions with unsatisfactory answers
  • No more German questions please
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • 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?
  • December 21, 2017
  • Catalonia votes
  • A deputy prime minister resigns
  • Will Gibraltar result in another Irish fudge?
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • December 19, 2016
  • Inside the customs union, outside the single market
  • Back to the future in Italy
  • The lessons from Fillon's first gaffe
  • Montebourg - a bit of everything
  • The Maastricht error
  • If Paul Romer is right...
  • August 22, 2016
  • Gold for Brexit
  • EU and Turkey talking past each other
  • Switzerland is the next migrant transit country
  • On the death of neoliberal economics
  • 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 11, 2020
  • Russia's extremely hostile threat to Germany
  • August 17, 2020
  • How Putin could divide the EU over Belarus
  • The impossible mission of forming a federal government in Belgium
  • July 23, 2020
  • The geopolitical storm over Huawei hits Europe
  • Hagia Sophia - Erdogan's political gamble
  • July 02, 2020
  • How Italian politics could intrude
  • Saving Airbus jobs - a new Franco-German mission?
  • June 11, 2020
  • Europe needs to re-engage in Libya
  • Who should succeed Centeno?
  • May 22, 2020
  • Russia and Turkey double down in Libya
  • What to make of No 10's Brexit briefings
  • May 04, 2020
  • What is and isn't true about the Wuhan lab conspiracies
  • Towards a new government in Ireland
  • April 15, 2020
  • Italy’s coalition disagrees about the ESM
  • March 25, 2020
  • Scientific advice and politics
  • Why the Oxford study is so useful
  • March 09, 2020
  • Lockdown measures are not working
  • Will the ceasefire hold in Idlib?
  • February 24, 2020
  • Coronavirus comes to Europe
  • Municipal elections - a precursor for Le Pen?
  • Germany and France get involved over Idlib
  • February 11, 2020
  • End of Merkel has suddenly come into sharper focus
  • Will Irish voters get the change they want?
  • January 29, 2020
  • French democracy and how to voice dissent
  • Whatever happened to the SPD’s revolution?
  • January 17, 2020
  • The world has discovered how to blackmail Germany
  • Fideszit?
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • December 19, 2019
  • Merkel rejects NordStream2 counter-sanctions
  • December 10, 2019
  • Squeezed between US and Russia - Open Skies edition
  • December 02, 2019
  • Will pension reform protests spiral out of control?
  • Malta's PM resigns over murder case
  • November 25, 2019
  • Twenty years on - and less safe than ever
  • Philippe's last round of talks ahead of strike actions
  • November 19, 2019
  • Not the time to bet against the Franco-German relationship
  • German employers and union united against the debt brake
  • November 14, 2019
  • Are France and Germany finally converging on security policy? We think they might.
  • November 11, 2019
  • Grand coalition agrees to continue grand coalition
  • Can Greens and conservatives agree on priorities?
  • Germany - self-content and without energy
  • November 08, 2019
  • Rethinking security - Macron edition
  • Rethinking defence - AKK edition
  • November 07, 2019
  • Merkel's Huawei decision now questioned by SPD
  • Decentralisation: the Achilles' heel of Macron?
  • November 06, 2019
  • Could the German coalition fall over the basis minimum pension? Quite possibly.
  • Philippe to present new immigration policies
  • The sharp edge of soft power