The collapse of German coalition talks has diminished the prospects for a meaningful leap forward in European cooperation.
“Political uncertainty has crossed the Rhine,” said Jean Pisani-Ferry, an economist and academic who helped draft French President Emmanuel Macron’s election programme. “Europe has gotten used to having a strong German government with clear positions. That is something we may not have for some time.”
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Germany now faces months of political limbo which will narrow an already tight window for agreeing reforms of euro zone governance and EU defence and asylum policies.
Should Germany be forced to hold new elections, its partners may have to wait until next summer for a government to take form. By then, Europe will be entering crunch time in its Brexit negotiations with Britain, preparing for sensitive discussions on a long-term EU budget and gearing up for the election of a new European Parliament.
“Things will go on hold until there is a formal acting German government,” one euro zone official was quoted as saying by Reuters. “At this stage I don’t see what steps the leaders could take in December or June for deepening euro zone integration when there is a German government without a mandate.”
Also in the air is an EU pact on closer defence cooperation, known as PESCO. Germany and France had hoped to sign it into law at a regular EU summit next month. Now diplomats involved in EU foreign policy say that may be overly ambitious, reported Reuters.