Merkel's EU Policy: "Kohl's Mädchen" or Interest-driven Politics?

in German Politics and Society
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This article tries to assess the likely trajectory of Angela Merkel's policies toward the EU in contrast to her predecessor's. With Germany taking the European Council Presidency in the first half of 2007, Merkel will have had a year to put her stamp on the Presidency. By contrast, Gerhard Schröder, who took office in October 1998 had only two months before the German Council Presidency of 1999 began. I argue that Schröder's years will be remembered at the EU for a new emphasis on Germany's interests, and the decline of Germany's interest in and willingness to fund "European Grand Projects." Schröder had no great ambitions to follow Helmut Kohl's footsteps in being "reflexively European." Merkel, by contrast, shows signs early in her tenure to follow more closely her mentor's approach to the EU. I examine Germany's EU budget policies, as well as statements and policies toward the Stability and Growth Pact as the main support for the claim Merkel is different in policy not simply rhetoric.