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POLITICS

Merkel sees ‘much broader scope’ for cooperation with Biden

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday there was far more common ground to work together with Washington now that Joe Biden has replaced Donald Trump in the White House.

Merkel sees 'much broader scope' for cooperation with Biden
Angela Merkel on Thursday. Photo: DPA

Merkel said Germany and Europe were ready to do their part to address a range of issues in the transatlantic in-tray including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and security threats with the new administration.

“There is a much broader scope of political accord with President Biden,” Merkel told reporters, citing his return to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization and his openness to migration as examples.

However she noted that observers expecting them to see eye-to-eye on all issues of transatlantic importance would be disappointed, saying there would of course be “debates about how we can do things well for both countries”.

“Biden represents the interests of the US, I represent those of the Federal Republic of Germany,” she said.

But she pledged to heed the calls pre-dating Trump for Germany and Europe to do more to foster global security particularly on defence.

“You hear everywhere people rightly saying that Europe will have to take on more responsibility, that means not only militarily but also in the diplomatic arena and many other areas,” she said.

“But the good news is that we in Germany are ready to do that, the EU is also ready to,” she said.

Merkel said such debates would now take place on a “broader foundation of shared convictions”.

READ ALSO: Merkel looks forward to 'new chapter' with Biden

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POLITICS

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP

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