German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Waiting for Germany

The European Union's political stagnation is becoming untenable in the face of mounting economic and geopolitical risks. French President Emmanuel Macron has signaled his willingness to pursue difficult EU-level reforms, so what is German Chancellor Angela Merkel is waiting for?

BERLIN – More than a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, the European Union is still stagnating politically. But the EU must be strengthened if the project of European integration is to succeed. Otherwise, the forces of the new nationalism will continue their assault on democracy, the rule of law, and the bloc’s other defining values.

The main reason that Europe remains at an impasse is Germany. For years after 2008, when the EU was confronting slow growth and mounting economic crises, Germany insisted that it could not move the European project forward alone, and that it would have to wait for France.

Then, in the spring of 2017, Emmanuel Macron was elected to the French presidency on the promise that he would push for EU-level reforms and modernize the French economy. But just when France was coming back on board, Germany was approaching its September 2017 general election, which resulted in significant losses for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and led to a months-long effort to form a new government.