What to expect from Merkel's successor
There have been rumors in the German media recently that German Chancellor Angela Merkel may step down ahead of schedule and transfer power to the current leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Program Manager at the Russian International Affairs Council Vladimir Morozov predicted the situation under such a scenario: "Most of the experts who followed the election of the new CDU leader noted that Kramp-Karrenbauer would most likely continue Merkel's policy. It was one of the reasons why Merkel supported her candidacy in the election of a new party leader.
First of all, we should expect the commitment to support the unity of the European Union will be preserved - this is Germany’s foreign policy priority, despite such current problems as the endless Brexit and the growing popularity of European skeptics, including in the elections to European institutions. One of Kramp-Karrenbauer's main challenges in foreign policy will be an attempt to form a new foreign policy identity not only in Germany, but also in the European Union due to the changes in relations between the European Union in general and Germany in particular, and the United States. Washington is moving away from its good cop’s policy and unhappy that its European allies are using the protection of American forces, in particular through NATO, and most of the NATO budget is contributed by the American side."
Therefore, according to Vladimir Morozov, in addition to preserving the EU and deepening further integration, one of the key challenges for German foreign policy will be searching for new partners outside the U.S., searching for new growth points to apply their foreign policy efforts.
At the same time, the expert does not expect that Germany’s relations with Russia will change for the better: “The key difference between Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer is not just age and experience as the head of government. Merkel, unlike many of her colleagues, can rely on her own knowledge of Russia. She rarely left the topic of relations with Russia to anyone at the Foreign Ministry or the Federal Chancellery. Crump-Carrenbauer is less interested in relations with our country. This is generally a key feature of German foreign policy since the 1990s, that is, since the German reunification. It should be noted that our relations are unlikely to reach a new level and in the best case scenario will continue in the business-as-usual format.”