The German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that the European Union “could fall apart” if populist parties got into power in the Netherlands or France.
During his last annual economic outlook before switching to foreign affairs, Gabriel issued a stark warning against the recent wave of support for populist parties.
“After Brexit last year, if enemies of Europe manage again in the Netherlands or in France to get results then we face the threat that the largest civilisation project of the 20th century, namely the European Union, could fall apart,” Gabriel warned.
The EU is facing a new risk with the Dutch elections in March and the French elections in May as eurosceptic, populist parties in both countries are set to make make huge strides during the elections.
Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom keeps gaining support and his anti-immigration party will likely enter government. In France, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National party, is currently leading the opinion polls.
Gabriel added that if the EU were to disintegrate, that Germany risked becoming “isolated” and that as an export nation its economy would greatly suffer if it lost partners vital for open-border transactions.
“One cannot overemphasise the dramatic nature of the situation,” Gabriel added according to Deutsche Welle.
Gabriel also reiterated warnings of growing inequalities between rich and poor in countries like Germany and pointed the finger at President Donald Trump, saying that “the palpable tendency towards protectionism in the world is a most dangerous road.”
Germany has also not been exempt from the populist wave sweeping the European continent with the anti-immigrant party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) gaining support following the huge influx of refugees coming to the country in 2015.
Although the AfD’s support is much lower than the support enjoyed by some populist parties in other European countries, Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing an uphill battle to retain her position during the September elections.
Gabriel announced a few days ago he would not be running as the head of the opposition against Merkel during the autumn elections.
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