Germany’s new government got to work this week after Angela Merkel and her ministers were sworn in. It’s Merkel’s fourth term as German Chancellor, and potential changes to the European Union will be an important focus for her new cabinet. Case in point: only hours after taking up his new position, the new Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, had already met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Eurozone reforms.
Andreas Kluth, Editor-in-Chief of Handelsblatt Global, doesn’t think Maas, the former German Justice Minister, will bring a new dynamic to the table, and instead sees the Finance Ministry as the key player in Brussels. “The Germans indeed have to deliver to the French and make Macron look good,” but at the same time many Germans across the political spectrum remain “skeptical about transferring more powers, especially more financial powers to Brussels.”
Another challenge for Germany and the European Union are recent remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump, who threatened German carmakers with higher taxes if Europe doesn’t lower trade barriers to U.S. imports. Kluth doesn’t think BMW or Mercedes-Benz need to worry about the president’s comments, though: “He’s been obsessed with German carmakers for decades….I think his bark is louder than his bite.” Kluth also added he thinks Trump actually has his sights set on China and believes that “the European Union will probably stare him down this time.”