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2014年1月 3日 (金)

独大連立政権 欧州経済の再生に責任は重い

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 2, 2014
Germany should bolster efforts to lift eurozone out of crisis
独大連立政権 欧州経済の再生に責任は重い(12月31日付・読売社説)

We expect German Chancellor Angela Merkel to exercise leadership to overcome the European fiscal and financial crisis now that she has secured a stable political foundation.

The third Merkel Cabinet was launched in Europe’s biggest economic power through the formation of a grand coalition between Germany’s two major political parties—her center-right Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD)—for the first time in four years.

As the German Bundestag, or lower house, has members elected basically by proportional representation, it is difficult for even a major party to secure a majority on its own. Negotiations to form a coalition government are thus inevitable.

The CDU/CSU secured a stunning victory in the September general election, after which it negotiated with the SPD, the largest opposition party, to form the grand coalition.

However, it took more than 80 days to launch the new coalition because the SPD adamantly demanded that the coalition government realize SPD’s campaign pledges, including the introduction of a nationwide minimum wage system, when formulating an accord to form the coalition. It cannot be denied that this created a political vacuum in Germany and stalled debates in the European Union to address the financial crisis.

The coalition agreement signed by the two parties called for fiscal rehabilitation and structural reform by eurozone countries. Their accord opposed initiatives that could increase the burden on Germany, saying that the measures, including a proposal to issue common euro-area bonds to procure funds based on the credibility of the eurozone, could foster laxity among indebted nations.

That is what the Merkel administration has been asserting, but it nonetheless demonstrated again its basic stance in overcoming the European crisis.

Danger of deflation

Greece and other south European nations are plagued with aggravated unemployment, prompting some observers to point out the risk of the eurozone plunging into deflation.

Germany, which achieved the world’s largest current account surplus in 2012, is essentially the only economically sound nation in Europe. Germany should consider policies to facilitate economic recovery in Europe, including increasing imports from other eurozone nations by boosting its domestic consumption.

The coalition agreement reconfirmed the existing “nuclear phaseout” stance to reduce the number of nuclear power plants to zero by the end of 2022.

But it said the coalition government will overhaul the nation’s feed-in tariff system, which requires utility companies to buy renewable energy—expected by many to be an alternative energy source for nuclear energy—at a high rate for certain number of years.

The grand coalition plans to make it a fundamental principle to trade renewable energy generated at newly established facilities in the market and introduce other measures to ensure a competitive environment in this field.

The feed-in tariff system was introduced in 2000 as a pillar of a program to promote the proliferation of renewable energy use. Since then, the electricity rate for households has continuously increased to its present figure, which is double the 2000 level. We believe the move to overhaul the system is appropriate, considering the widespread public criticism of it.

Japan’s feed-in tariff system was modeled after the German system. Japan should also review this system by closely paying attention to Germany’s moves in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 31, 2013)
(2013年12月31日02時07分  読売新聞)


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