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Time nearly up for Angela Merkel to cement legacy

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Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 10:40
Time nearly up for Angela Merkel to cement legacy

More recently, the election of Ralph Brinkhaus as Merkel's new parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag after the ouster of her longtime ally Volker Kauder was a domestic political defeat for the chancellor; it also limited her influence within the European Union. Brinkhaus may not be a euroskeptic, but he is fully supportive of what Macron has lamented as the "fetish" of fiscal conservatism, particularly when it comes to policy in Brussels. The fact that his views stand in the way of reaching consensus at the EU level seems to bother Brinkhaus little. However, in the minds of Germany's conservative parliamentary group — an alliance between Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) — he is a breath of fresh air.

Security and prosperity across the European Union, the central message of Merkel's one-on-one talks with Macron earlier this year, require not only a strong euro, but also concerted efforts by member states. However, it seems that Merkel's struggles will continue, particularly when it comes to achieving a common eurozone budget.

Merkel's latest woes add another complication to the much-publicized divisions in Brussels. Ultimately, they demonstrate her limited political toolbox in these exceptional times — when it comes to both the European Union and her chancellorship. She continues to forge ahead with the same tactic of examining the situation, waiting and then coming up with a solution at the last minute. But the current political climate, including the factionalism within her own conservative bloc, is far too volatile to continue with that approach.