In the caretaker German government, ahead of talks with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a possible continuation of the grand coalition, the house is hanging askew over the glyphosate vote in the EU. The SPD reacted angrily to Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt going it alone. Chancellor Angela Merkel then issued a rebuke to her minister.
Germany had agreed to an extension of glyphosate approval in Brussels on Monday at the instigation of Schmidt, although Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) had objected to it. In such a case the rules of procedure of the government provide that Germany abstains from the vote.
“You can’t govern like this, it just doesn’t work,” Hendricks criticized on Tuesday, speaking of a loss of trust between the two previous coalition partners. CDU/CSU and SPD to meet with Steinmeier at his Berlin official residence, Bellevue Palace, on Thursday to explore chances for continuation of Grand Coalition.
Hendricks, as well as several SPD politicians, called for a clear reaction from the chancellor and “a confidence-building measure” from the Union parties. “The chancellor must explain whether she knew about this and whether she agreed to the procedure,” said SPD Vice President Thorsten Schafer-Gumbel. If Merkel had known about this, “it would be a real mortgage for any form of talks,” he added, with a view to possible government cooperation between the SPD and the CDU/CSU.
Merkel then reprimanded Schmidt, accusing him of violating the federal government’s rules of procedure. “This did not correspond to the instruction situation that had been worked out by the federal government,” Merkel said of Schmidt’s actions. “I expect that such an occurrence will not happen again.”Merkel also made it clear, however, that in terms of content she considers the Yes vote for the continued approval of glyphosate to be justified.
According to Schmidt, the decision was made solely. He made this decision for himself and as part of his departmental responsibility, he said on ARD’s “Morgenmagazin” program.
The criticism on the part of the SPD did not tear off however despite the criticism of Merkels at Schmidt. The parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Carsten Schneider, accused Merkel of her “loss of authority” has become “tangible” by this case. This damages “the trusting and smooth cooperation” in government. Such “chaotic processes” are “completely unacceptable” for the largest EU country. It remained “completely open” how the chancellor wants to ensure that such a case does not happen again, Schneider explained. The credibility of Merkel is in question.
Hendricks also did not see the conflict with the Union resolved by the rebuke. “I continue to believe that we need a confidence-building measure,” the SPD politician said. She had it assumed that Merkel had not been informed beforehand. However, he said, the chancellor had expressed something that in principle was self-evident. “Namely, all ministers must abide by the rules of procedure of the federal government.” Hendricks again spoke of an “affront” by Schmidt.
Glyphosate, a poison used en masse in agriculture, kills wild herbs and thus the food base for insects and birds. It is made considerably for the species shrinkage jointly responsible. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) had also classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” in 2015. Other experts, however, came to different conclusions. Austria and eight other countries voted Monday against extending approval for glyphosate, diplomats say.