Angela Merkel never came to Britain’s aid over Brexit – and neither did Olaf Scholz
He was much more conciliatory than the French Minister for Europe Clément Beaune. He said the introduction of 5,000 temporary visas exposed Brexit’s “intellectual fraud”.
It was another sheet from Merkel’s playbook. She had always played the good cop to Emmanuel Macron’s bad cop.
“I think it’s always an important idea for all of us to ensure that there are good relations between the EU and the UK. But it’s a problem to be solved, ”said Mr. Scholz.
Ms Merkel called for the longest possible extensions of the negotiations in order to avoid a lack of agreement and to protect relations between the UK and the EU if possible.
Mr Scholz also wants good relations with the UK, but the EU, its Member States and especially Ireland will come first.
Relations between the UK and the EU have gone from bad to worse with disputes over vaccine supplies and the Northern Ireland protocol since Brexit went into effect on January 31.
“Concerns in Brussels beyond Brexit”
If he can form a ruling coalition, Mr Scholz will have a lot to do in Brussels besides Brexit.
Mr Macron will seek to push forward the EU’s common defense projects, backed by the SPD, as well as the plan to replace unanimous voting on EU foreign policy with a majority vote of member states.
But the French president faces his own elections in April, which could further slow down the Paris-Berlin engine of European policymaking.
Mr Scholz will have to satisfy his new coalition partners, including the pro-business FDP, who are likely to withstand a post-pandemic push to ease EU fiscal rules.
The Greens will demand stronger European action on the rule of law in countries like Poland and Hungary.