In the same way that it is not the same that the labor reform is designed by Luis de Guindos than Yolanda Díaz, for example, who occupies the German Chancellery and who assumes his chair in the Eurogroup will have direct consequences in the rest of Europe and in Spain. Expansive public spending policies to face the economic crisis of the pandemic – thanks to the fact that Brussels activated the escape clause of the debt and deficit rules – will lead many economies to deficit and debt levels well above of the limits.
From there, how do macroeconomic levels recover? Which way do you take? The one of austerity and cuts as in the previous crisis? Or is there an alternative? What happens, the direction that the European Union takes, will depend very much on the government of the main European economy.RELATED
If during the previous crisis Angela Merkel refused Eurobonds, bet hard on austerity and her minister Wolfgan Schäuble was relentless with Alexis Tsipras’ Greece in the Eurogroup, the management of the current crisis is being very different. The grand coalition, with Merkel in the Chancellery and the Social Democratic candidate, Olaf Scholz, at the head of Finance, has made recovery funds and joint debt issuance possible.
But what can happen from Sunday? It depends. It depends on how the numbers come out. If the numbers gave for such a grand coalition government, but changing the correlation of forces, perhaps the course would not turn much on the big issues. And that, in any case, may take time: negotiations to form a government coalition are never simple, and even less if they can involve more than two parties. It will take months to find out who will succeed Merkel’s government.
Now, the doubts come with the possible coalitions that are opened, depending on whether the winner, as the polls say, will be the candidate of the SPD or that of the CDU, Armin Laschet, which could mean greater continuity with what has been known so far . Of course, if the pact goes through the FDP, the liberal party, and its leader, Christian Lindner, has a relevant role in economic policy, it will have consequences for Spain. Lindner is in tune with the club of the self-described frugal – the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden; that is to say, it shares the ordoliberal faith of budget restraint, austerity and mistrust in the countries of the South.
For now, he has already announced that he does not want the fiscal rules to be modified – which Scholz himself has also praised, by the way – something that other governments are asking for, such as the Spanish, and other German parties, such as the Greens and Die Linke.
Indeed, if Scholz wins, it will not be the same as he governs with the FDP as there is a red-green government in which Die Linke can also be included, a party to the left of the Social Democracy and that defends the reform of economic governance European “neoliberal”.
In fact, some people from the socialist ranks in Brussels warn about the consequences of a pact with the FDP at the time that the CDU can pass to the opposition, which would be a scenario in which the liberals would have a share of the government and put the brakes on to expansive policies in the EU, while Christian Democrats would find themselves lobbying from outside, both in the German Parliament and in the European institutions.
But it is not only the economic debate that is on pause in Europe awaiting the color – or colors, rather – from the German Government.
In Brussels, everyone remembers that MEPs from the SPD, Scholz’s party, voted against Ursula von der Leyen, Merkel’s former defense minister, for the presidency of the European Commission two years ago. And that lack of harmony between the foreseeable new German Chancellor and the German president of the Community Executive will have consequences.
Especially if one takes into account the great fluidity of the current relationship between Von der Leyen and Merkel, which has been seen in such relevant matters as the design of the community vaccination campaign, for example. Or in the fact of how Von der Leyen prioritizes his communication in the German media. Merkel’s march will also have an emancipatory impulse and a domino effect for the president of the European Commission, such as the fact that she announced in the last debate of the State of the Union her commitment to a defense EU that would be presented in society in 2022 in an act with Emmanuel Macron.
Now, whether this defense EU advances more or less will depend, once again, on the new German government, on whether the FDP liberals, for example, very Atlanticists, or Die Linke, opposed to NATO and antimilitarists, are among them. If the accent of the new European fiscal rules – more or less rigorous or flexible – depends on that, it will also depend on the future relationship of the EU with NATO and the design of its own defense mechanism.
Indeed, the geopolitical character that this European Commission wants to give, the debate on strategic autonomy – in relation to the production of sensitive articles, but also in the reinforcement of the euro or to have its own role in international relations – is pending also of the future chancellery.
The accent of the link with the White House and the management of differences with Russia and China, for example, will be influenced by the new German government: the last SPD Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, is on the salary of Gazprom and presides over the Nord Stream 2 company, the gas pipeline that connects Russia with Germany.
What will the relationship with the US be like? How will European defense advance? Will it return to austerity and cuts? The big decisions in the EU and their impact on Spain will depend on what happens this Sunday at the German polls.