German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel thinks the country’s insistence on austerity has pushed Europe to the point where a European Union break-up is no longer inconceivable.
“It is indecent that states like France and Italy, that are going through reform, have to spend so much energy to be allowed to go half a percentage point higher in their budget deficit,” he said, criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s push for strict EU budget rules.
“I once asked the chancellor, what would be more costly for Germany: for France to be allowed to have half a percentage point more deficit, or for Marine Le Pen to become president?” the Social Democrats (SDP) chairman and Merkel’s coalition partner said. “Until today, she still owes me an answer.”
In an interview published Saturday Gabriel told Der Spiegel that his is not a popular message for German voters, “but I also know about the state of the EU. It is no longer unthinkable that it breaks apart.”
The vice chancellor is likely to lead his party’s campaign in Germany’s federal elections next September.
He said he would prefer to forge a federal coalition between the (SPD), the German Greens and the Liberal FDP party after the elections.