German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday challenged Britain to come up with alternatives to the Irish border backstop within 30 days, but French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned there would be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal. More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union, it is still unclear on what terms – or indeed whether – the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexiteer who won the premiership a month ago, is betting that the threat of “no-deal” Brexit turmoil will convince Merkel and Macron that the EU should do a last-minute deal to suit his demands. Speaking beside Merkel at the German Chancellery, Johnson repeatedly said that the Irish border backstop – which is a protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement struck by his predecessor Theresa May – needed to be removed in full. “It was said we will probably find a solution in two years. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?” Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, said. Johnson confirmed that she had given him 30 days to come up with alternatives and said there was ample scope for a deal. The two leaders had a constructive dinner of tuna, venison and chocolate tart, a British source said. But just an hour after Merkel spoke, Macron said the demands made by Johnson for a renegotiation of the divorce deal, including the removal of the Irish
Angela Merkel was expecting a friendly chat with business women when she visited Dresden earlier this month. Instead, far-right protesters jeered the German Chancellor’s arrival. Hundreds of demonstrators from the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, a group known as Pegida, gathered in the historic city to voice their anger at Merkel and her decision to welcome over a million refugees since 2015. One threw a bottle at a journalist, another gave a Nazi salute, while a third denied the Holocaust, a criminal offense in Germany. A poster bearing Merkel’s image read: Terrorists Welcome. Despite nearly a decade of consistent economic growth, there’s growing fatigue with Merkel and the ruling parties, particularly in the former communist East, which has undergone decades of social and economic change. The region that saw massive right-wing protests last year is now back in focus as voters in three states go to the polls this fall. In two of them — Saxony and Brandenburg — Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their junior partner, the Social Democrats, may lose for the first time since reunification in 1990, to the upstart Alternative for Germany, or AfD. That could not only implode her fragile coalition but upend a political landscape dominated by two parties since World War II. “That is the writing on the wall for the traditional parties,” Josef Janning, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview. “This will shake up the system.” Merkel’s coalition is already
Germany is marking the 75th anniversary of the most famous plot to kill Adolf Hitler, honoring those who resisted the Nazis — who were stigmatized for decades as traitors — as pillars of the country’s modern democracy amid growing concerns about the resurgence of the far-right. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will speak Saturday at an annual swearing-in ceremony for some 400 troops before addressing a memorial event, paid tribute ahead of the anniversary to executed plot leader Col. Claus von Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators and highlighted their importance to modern Germany. “Only if we understand our past can we build a good future,” Angela Merkel said. Von Stauffenberg tried to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb on July 20, 1944, during a meeting at his headquarters in East Prussia. Hitler escaped the full force of the blast when someone moved the briefcase next to a table leg, deflecting much of the explosive force. The plot crumbled when news spread that Hitler had survived. Von Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters were executed within hours. The story had little resonance in the immediate post-World War II years, when many still viewed the July 20 plotters as traitors, as they had been painted by the Nazis in the aftermath of the failed assassination. The resistance against the Nazis only came to be “laboriously accepted” over subsequent decades, said Johannes Tuchel, director of the German Resistance Memorial Center, and even in the 1980s many believed its memory would fade away. Only in 2004
A year after the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, the pact is at severe risk of collapse and the European Union is caught in the middle, struggling to keep supply lines open to the Islamic Republic’s wilting economy under the threat of U.S. sanctions. With few real options left, their trust in the Trump administration running low, and fears rising that conflict could break out, major powers Germany, France and Britain have been reduced to repeating calls for restraint as pressure builds and Iran threatens to walk away from the painstakingly drafted 2015 deal. In an effort to keep Iran’s economy afloat and save an agreement they believe has stopped Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the Europeans are turning to diplomacy to try to encourage other countries to buy more Iranian oil. They also have set up a barter-type system to evade possible U.S. sanctions. “We have to do everything to solve the conflict situation with Iran in a peaceful manner,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday. “We will do everything to impress on all sides, but especially to make clear to Iran, that this serious situation mustn’t be aggravated.” The pact, which ensures that Tehran’s nuclear program be restricted to civilian uses in exchange for economic assistance, was signed by Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, France Germany and Britain. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in May 2018. “We are relying on Iran continuing to abide by it,” German Chancellor
The abrupt resignation of the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) after disastrous European and regional elections has thrown the future of the ‘grand coalition’ with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives into doubt. The government looks set to limp on until elections in three former Communist eastern states in September and October. But if the SPD and Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) do badly, the risk of a government collapse would increase sharply. The SPD, led by an interim triumvirate for the next few months, will later this year pick a new leader and review its role in the coalition. To reinvent itself in opposition and win back defectors from the resurgent Greens, the SPD may, under a new leader, ditch its marriage with Merkel. Here are the main scenarios for Germany if the coalition between the conservative bloc and SPD collapses: NEW ELECTION The option most analysts are talking about, a snap election before the next scheduled one in 2021, poses enormous risks for the conservatives and SPD. Merkel has said she will not stand for a fifth term as chancellor. The conservative bloc of the CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party is polling at 26%-29%, below their 2017 election result. Merkel’s heir apparent Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has failed to boost the CDU’s ratings since taking over as its leader in December. The SPD faces decimation, at 12%-17% in polls, paying the price for sharing power as Merkel’s junior partners for six years and 10 of the last 14. A
Germany’s Angela Merkel, who has headed the CDU for 18 years, had until now always indicated that she believed the posts of party leader and chancellor should be held by the same person.
“She will not stand again for the chairmanship of her party,” a source within the Christian Democratic Union said.