European Movement Breakfast Briefing with Bernd Hüttemann and Daniel Brössler

On 25 January 2018, the European Movement International organised another Breakfast Briefing, this time to discuss the German coalition negotiations together with Bernd Hüttemann, Secretary General of the European Movement Germany and Daniel Brössler, Brussels Correspondent for Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Mr Hüttemann and Mr Brössler shared their personal and professional perspectives and gave insight into the negotiations between the CDU/CSU and the SPD, offering their analyses of state of play in Berlin and doing their best to predict what the future German government could look like. They also discussed how it could affect Brussels and the rest of the EU in a time of intense debate around the future of Europe.

@EMInternational sheds light on the #FutureofEurope and the role of a #GroKo in Germany

— Eva Maydell(Paunova) (@EvaMaydell) January 25, 2018

The SPD’s vote at their party congress in Bonn last Sunday gave the green light for the official coalition negotiations with the CDU/CSU. However, the path for a new government in Germany is still far from clear and it could still take weeks before the country reappears on the European political stage with a unified government and strong proposals.

While it seems like the rest of Europe is waiting for Germany to find a new government and to reclaim its position in Europe, Bernd Hüttemann reminded the participants at the briefing that the the future of Europe should not defined solely by Germany or by a trio of Berlin, Paris and Brussels. He also said it was an common mistake in Brussels to reduce the German decision-making body to the Chancellery and the Finance ministry.

Mr Hüttemann added that he also lamented the absence the voice of Eastern voices or smaller EU Member States in the debate the future of the EU. Mr Brössler agreed that smaller countries in Europe should not feel they needed to hide behind big countries for instance to put forward their proposals and push for their proposals, for instance during decisions made on EU budget.

Focusing on the intense period of coalition negotiations that now lies ahead, Mr Hüttemann said he hopes for a more holistic way of EU policy shaping in Germany, which involves more stakeholders and visionary ideas.

This morning @huettemann is at #EMIbreakfast @EMInternational to discuss the German coalition w/ @dbroessler

— Europäische Bewegung (@NetzwerkEBD) January 25, 2018

After the overviews of both Mr Hüttemann and Mr Brössler, the around 40 stakeholders in the room had the opportunity to ask questions and to add their thoughts to the discussion. One of the participants evoked the possibility of the SPD-CDU/CSU coalition negotiation talks completely failing, potentially opening another door for a minority government. Both speakers did not rule out the possibility and the advantages of a minority government and emphasized that the coalition between the SPD and the CDU-CSU was far from being a done deal.

Another issue that was brought up was the potential dangers of the far-right AfD and the party’s impact on German and European decision-making. In this context, Mr Brössler said that even though it was natural for a democratic system to include parties with different views, he was worried about the AfD’s party line, that is dividing the German society, and what damage it could cause. While this is a question currently regarding many European countries, it remains unanswered how to best deal with the undemocratic and eurosceptic parties in Europe.