Social Democrat (SPD) leader and incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed an historic three-way coalition this week with the Greens and Free Democrats. SPD’s Europe negotiator in the coalition talks, Udo Bullmann, said the government will be seeking a closer relationship with Europe and suggested this would be easier because Brexit has been finalised.
He told German magazine Der Spiegel: “Germany needs to send a signal in which direction the German government would like the European Union to develop.
“We are not despondent, we don’t look back and we don’t have the Brexit shock in our bones.
“We want to take courageous steps towards integration because we know that time is short and people are waiting for them.”
The direction of the new regime has also started to take shape after the Green party’s co-leader Annalena Baerbock, an ardent europhile, was appointed foreign minister.
The 40-year-old will help to shape overseas policy-making and her ideas are already being described as a blueprint for a “United States of Europe”.
Speaking on Friday, Ms Baerbock said: “A strong German foreign policy can only be a European one.”
During the election campaign, Ms Baerbock said if the Greens were victorious then her first foreign trip would be to Brussels.
The prospect of a “United States of Europe” is one that has been in the offing for several years – and ever since French President Emmanuel Macron spearheaded the idea of an EU Army.
Meanwhile, the German coalition faces more immediate issues as coronavirus cases continue to soar in the country and the discovery of a new mutated variant in Europe.
Germany recorded 76,000 new Covid infections on Friday – a record daily figure.
Ms Baerbock said mandatory vaccines and another lockdown could not be ruled out.
Belgium became the first European Union country to announce a case of the variant B.1.1.529, which has been identified in other places including South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there was “huge international concern” over the strain.