Over the past two weeks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a series of decisions that have brought into question her country’s place at both the heart of Europe and traditional trans-Atlantic alliances.Steven Erlanger and Judy Dempsey at the New York Times write that Merkel’s decision to shutdown nuclear power plants in German has upset France, while its decision to not vote for the Libyan intervention has distanced it from the U.S., France, and the UK.
Part of the reason Merkel has been so rogue over the past few crisis filled weeks is because she is facing key local elections. It has even been suggested that Merkel shut down seven nuclear plants specifically to win polls in Baden-Württemberg.
And, in many ways, the government’s position on Libya makes little sense. In one instance, they oppose intervention, and in the next, the country’s foreign minister say Qaddafi must go. It appears like Merkel’s government is attempting to freeload off of U.S.-UK-French military expenditures. Or worse, it could be cozying up to Russia, its key natural gas supplier, to ensure Nordstream goes off without a hitch.
All the while, Merkel is trying to get European Union leaders to sign on to a “Pact for Competitiveness” in which their will be a standardization of labour and fiscal policies throughout the region. That will be difficult to do with key ally France upset over both Libya and the nuclear plant shutdown.
While this all may be the product of a difficult domestic political environment, Merkel is doing little to inspire confidence in her supposed allies about where Germany stands on key international issues. Friction at today and tomorrow’s European Union summit is likely to result, as the area’s most important country looks more rogue than leader.