Gunther Oettinger, Germany’s most senior eurocrat, said Berlin would lose significant power and influence if the Social Democrat Party decided to breakaway from the government. “I think the influence of the German government and the German Chancellor in the EU is really impressive,” Mr Oettinger told Politico. “My main question is: what will happen if there is a new German government?”
“There is a concern that that this level of authority and influence may not be guaranteed,” he added.
Mrs Merkel has promised to step down as Chancellor in 2021 when her term comes to an end ahead of Germany’s next general election.
Since announcing the intention to give up her role, Mrs Merkel’s parliamentary ties with the Social Democrats have been tried and tested – leaving the coalition government on the brink of collapse.
The SDP’s ongoing leadership tussles has raised questions on whether the party should even continue propping up the Chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union.
Social Democrats will vote on finance minister Olaf Scholz and Klara Geywitz, who both support continuing their political union with the CDU, or Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, who have suggested they may scrap the alliance.
Mr Oettinger said: “We have to see… is the SPD ready and able and willing to continue, what are the conditions?”
The EU commissioner urged the coalition partners to continue supporting Mrs Merkel to maintain his country’s influence in Brussels.
Germany will take over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency in the second half of 2020, playing an important role in the bloc’s next budget.
“The second semester of next year is a very important semester… We will have a lot of problems on our European agenda, so a strong and experienced German government is what we are preferring.
“So we would prefer that the grand coalition will continue up too the end of the mandate in summer 2021.”
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“We should come to a decision when we need a decision,” he said. “So normally summer next year.
“If we have an extraordinary election in spring next year – which I don’t hope – then we need a decision immediately after it’s clear there will be an extraordinary election.”