Leading article: Pragmatism and protectionism

Share
Related Topics

Considered from the perspective of Germany's domestic priorities, the proposed composition of the new government could have been much worse. The nominations have a consensual feel. This will not bring the sort of rapid reform that advocates of the so-called British model have advocated, but it does mean that stalemate and quarrels may be avoided.

The nomination as Economy and Technology minister of Edmund Stoiber, the CDU/CSU's disappointed candidate for chancellor three years ago, is a sensible use of his strengths, and limits his capacity for mischief-making. As Prime Minister of Bavaria, Mr Stoiber has presided over one of the most successful and job-creating regional economies in the country. Peter Steinbrueck, the SPD's nominee for Finance minister, is a reformer, whose enthusiasm for cutting subsidies could chime with Ms Merkel's instincts for tax-cutting.

Franz Muentefering, the SPD's nominee for Labour minister, gained notoriety for describing some financiers as "locusts" during the keenly fought election in North Rhine-Westphalia. His record, however, suggests a pragmatist rather than an ideologue. As the third member of the economic team, he will probably be less troublesome to Ms Merkel than the "locust" comment might suggest.

Considered from the perspective of the European Union, and specifically of Britain's presidency, however, the new government line-up could have been a great deal better. In particular, the nomination of a Bavarian, Horst Seehofer, as Agriculture minister, shows that Ms Merkel's room for manoeuvre on EU agriculture subsidies will be limited.

A more immediate difficulty is that Germany's outgoing Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, intends to come to the EU summit on social issues at the end of October. Any hopes Tony Blair or Gordon Brown might have had of "selling" the successes of the British model Europe-wide will be constrained by Mr Schröder's near-victory in the German election on a platform that opposed the "Anglo-Saxon model" and also by the slowing of the British economy.

If Germany's new government is approved, negotiations on EU budget reform could get even tougher. A Merkel government, while moderately reformist at home, could be even more protective of Germany's interests in the EU than was the Schröder government before it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A street in Rotherham, where the Jay report has exposed the abuse of 1400 children  

Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal - the lessons: We need solutions, not scapegoats

Paul Vallely
 

No menu! Dining doesn't get posher than this

Dom Joly
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution