The German Greens had historic results in the federal election in Germany held in September 2021, with 14.8% of the vote! They secured the strongest gains (+5.8%) compared to other parties, almost doubling their vote share from the previous 2017 election and obtaining 118 seats in the Parliament. They also had the best results among young voters, with 22% of those under 30 voting for the Greens.
After a period of coalition negotiations, the Traffic Light coalition – composed of the red-yellow-green parties the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the German Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) – have now decided on an agreement, which was voted and approved by all parties, for a coalition government. That makes Germany the 6th country with Greens in government in the EU, joining Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and Luxembourg!
Robert Habeck will be Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Economy and Climate Protection, and Annalena Baerbock will be Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Greens also obtained the following positions:
- Anne Spiegel will be Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
- Steffi Lemke will be Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection
- Cem Özdemir will be Minister of Food and Agriculture
- Claudia Roth will be Minister of State for Culture and Media
🇩🇪 We are very proud to see 6 Greens from @Die_Gruenen in the new German coalition government.— European Greens (@europeangreens) December 8, 2021
🌻 Congratulations to all of them! We wish them the best for their mandate.
Read more 👉 https://t.co/jAFdET1q4Y pic.twitter.com/8hwxZv6s55
The German Greens have additionally been granted the right to suggest the EU commissioner in 2024 – provided that the Commission President does not come from Germany – which is a huge asset.
With the German Greens in government, we can expect Europe to play a much bigger role in climate, foreign affairs, fiscal policy, and the rule of law. During the coalition negotiations, the German Greens notably focused on Germany's responsibility for Europe and the world, connecting to European issues across various sectors. Greens/EFA MEP Sven Giegold, who was part of the coalition negotiations, stated that "The most important thing that is decided in a federal election in Germany is no longer what laws we make in Germany, but what role Germany plays in Europe." We interviewed Member of the Bundestag for Munich-South and Deputy Federal Chairwoman of ahe German Greens Jamila Schäfer, to find out more about the positive impact that the party will have on European issues when in government.
Interview with Jamila Schäfer
What do you see as the main challenges for Europe today? How do the German Greens want to address these as they enter government?
The EU has been built on the premise of democracy, peace and the rule of law. Today we are at a crossroads: whether we strengthen human rights and the rule of law as the basis for a globalized world or continue to weaken it. But if we want to strengthen international cooperation based on the rule of law, we must live up to what we preach.
The EU has been facing major challenges from within: Human rights and international law is being violated nearly every day on the external borders – just because we are incapable of forming a robust asylum system. In many EU countries civil society work is more and more restricted. The current Polish government has undermined its independent judiciary system. The soft approach by the EU Commission towards these developments has given too much space to authoritarian and antidemocratic actors. The last German government was also responsible for Victor Orbán's long acceptance in the conservative party family. Within the new coalition we will use our political weight to stop the authoritarian transformation of Europe. We want to form progressive alliances with other European governments to defend the rule of law and strengthen the European democracy. We urge the Commission to enforce the existing rule of law instruments as well as the European Court of Justic (ECJ) rulings more consistently and promptly. And we will more consistently enforce and further develop rule of law instruments in the Council.
We no longer want to look the other way when it comes to pushbacks. We want to end the incentives for pushbacks by initiating a relocation program within a coalition of willing member states and will create more legal possibilities for people to migrate or ask for asylum directly in those states without an EU external border. We need a fair distribution of responsibility and competence among the EU states.
We have formed a government that finally addresses the climate crisis. The EU countries, and Germany right at the front, bear a major responsibility for global warming. Thus, the EU and its member states need to face this responsibility and steer on a path to climate neutrality – the new German governing coalition has agreed on a vast and rapid expansion of renewable energy sources and the end of coal-fired power generation by 2030 in order to steer towards a 1.5°C path. In Germany and on the EU level we will strengthen cooperation on international climate protection, including through climate partnerships, and expand international climate financing.
The Greens are now in charge of the Economy and Climate Protection Ministry - How do you see this new 'super ministry'? How does it change the scope of what the German Greens can do in a coalition government to create a more just and sustainable Europe?
The transformation of the German and European industry and energy generation go hand in hand with battling the climate crisis. Thus, and in combination with Green ministers responsible for the portfolios environmental protection, food and agriculture and climate foreign policy, the new ministry for the Economy and Climate will be a decisive factor in steering Germany towards the 1.5°C target.
Germany is the 6th country where Greens are in government in the EU (joining Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and Luxembourg). How is the party going to leverage their presence in the government, and enhance their collaboration with Greens in government in other EU countries?
With central ministries in the German governing coalition including economy, climate, agriculture, family and gender portfolios, the Green party is now able to leverage its progressive agenda for a social and climate neutral Europe. This will strengthen the Green politics of our fellow governing and opposition parties inside and outside of the EU and we will continue to build on our strong networks within the party family. Also, with five new German Green ministers in total we will now be able to directly influence decision-making in the EU Council and on the international level. We are excited and looking forward to cooperating with our European Green partners at that level and together making a difference for European politics.
How will Germany's approach to the rule of law under this new coalition government be different in comparison to previous governments?
The approach of the outgoing government under Angela Merkel towards authoritarian regimes within and outside of the EU has been that of strategic inertia. The new government will not tolerate rule of law infringement within the EU and will put pressure on the EU level to stand against authoritarian practices. Under our new foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, Germany's foreign policies will be value-driven and will thus challenge human rights infringements wherever they occur.
What has been agreed so far in the coalition agreement in relation to refugees and migrants, and how will this impact migration across Europe and at its borders?
After years of stagnation and resistance in Germany, we will create a new asylum, migration and integration system that does justice to a modern immigration country and continent. With this paradigm shift, we want to make migration forward-looking, plannable and realistic. This means enabling the reunification of families, creating safe and legal migration paths, forming new citizenship laws and fundamentally reforming the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The highest goal is the end of the daily human catastrophes on Europe's borders and in the Mediterranean and the switch to a humane and responsible asylum system in the EU.
What does lowering the voting age to 16 mean for the next European election?
The new coalition has agreed to lower the voting age for European elections to 16 – a great success for our participatory democracy! This means, the generation that has been fighting at the forefront for a just and climate neutral Europe will be able to cast their vote and influence European policy.
Would you like to highlight any other aspect of the new coalition government?
The new government will finally bring German politics and law up to speed with the realities of today's German and European society. This includes a modern family and parentage law that does justice to the existing diverse family constellations, a reform of our laws simplifying the legal gender self-determination as well as new citizenship laws. And – a point that women in Germany have not rested to fight for – we will abolish paragraph 219a of the criminal code in order to allow the publication of information about the termination of pregnancies.
We wish the German Greens success with their government mandate!
We look forward to the German Greens making the EU Greener from their position in government. The European Greens will continue to work with our member parties towards spreading the Green Wave across Europe to ensure that more Green Parties in the EU, and beyond, can join the government and introduce Green policies to create a just and sustainable Europe!
Photo Credits: Elias Keilhauer