Jeans, whisky and peanut butter — that’s not my lineup for the weekend but a new front in the trade war. The EU will slap retaliatory tariffs on €2.8 billion of goods from the United States, in response to US tariffs. That starts tomorrow and more may follow as these only cover half the value of Washington’s levies. Step back from the brink — nobody sees any sense in tariffs.
But the government in Berlin is busy in the doghouse after its first 100 days on the job. The SMEs that form the backbone of the country’s economy are upset by the government’s lack of progress. Too much bureaucracy, too little dynamism. Write a letter and fax it to the chancellery, folks, where Merkel is busy fighting off the end of days.
The last few days in particular have riled an angry few. Now, Merkel’s sister party, the Christian Social Union wants her gone as a new front opens in the battle between her and the rambunctious bovver boys from the south. Furious at her agreement with Macron — to reform the euro zone and take back asylum seekers — the Bavarians accused her of breaking the law and attempting to buy a compromise on asylum. While others called the Mercron agreement “watered down” and “vague,” it was enough to drive the CSU into a hissy fit and today, one lawmaker said publicly, Merkel has “got to go.”
But all the bully boy stuff is familiar territory — just the Bavarians’ special brand of electioneering. And yesterday Merkel got a helping hand from Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission. His slew of proposals for Sunday’s summit includes thousands more border guards and processing asylum seekers in reception centers outside the EU. I doubt that’s enough to rally the countries attending but hopefully this hasty gamble will play out.
Either way, Merkel can expect months of rumbling from Bavaria right up until their October election. Badgering is what the CSU does best.
Speaking of bearish bad news, Deutsche Bank now seems like a company circling the drain. In the next few days, it’s likely to fail a stress test by US regulators, in its own reputational doom loop. Deutsche failed the stress tests in 2015 and 2016 so it might be more surprising if Germany’s biggest bank passed than failed.
Plus, the authorities here are looking for clues after they foiled what could have been the first chemical terror attack in Germany. A 29-year old Tunisian living in Cologne was preparing to use ricin, a deadly toxin, somewhere in the country. The seeds and parts to build an explosive device were found in his apartment. Now, cops are considering whether to increase the monitoring of chemical and biological weapons.
So even though it’s the height of summer, the mood in the beer gardens is glum, as people worry about Merkel, carmakers and the state of the country. Oh and soccer. As Die Mannschaft’s next match draws nearer, people are saying the team, and the country, have lost their way. Germany seems lost in transition from a golden but complacent era of economic and political strength to an uncertain future of mass migration, trade wars and global disorder, our correspondent writes. Guys, it’s only a game.
A plan for Iran
And there are bright ideas coming from Germany, starting with a way to save the Iran deal. The EU has been trying to figure to a way to save the deal ever since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement. According to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, setting up a private German Iran Bank would keep investment flowing into Iran, so that Tehran sticks to its side of the nuclear deal.
Looking ahead, then, I’m watching what happens for Merkel this weekend and what that means for Europe. And I’m also watching the Turkish elections that take place on Sunday. Of the four million Turkish expats living in Germany, half of those with the right to vote have done so already. The Turkish population is divided between the socially conservative and those happy to be out of Erdogan’s ever-growing reach.
And here’s a tiny buzz of good news on this summer solstice for the insect world. Prospects are slightly sweeter now that the German ministries of agriculture and the environment agreed yesterday to spend €5 million to protect bugs and cut down pesticides. You can do your bit for our eight-legged friends by planting wild flowers — gardens are so hip now it hurts.
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