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Berlin Takes on Brussels: Merkel's Ongoing Fight to Extend Coal Subsidies - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The European Commission has decided to end coal subsidies by 2014, a decision which does not sit well with Chancellor Angela Merkel. She wants Europe to revisit the decision, but support is lacking. Even her own economics minister is standing in the way. By SPIEGEL Staff

When Chancellor Angela Merkel sees Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle at her weekly cabinet meetings on Wednesdays, it quickly becomes clear that the relationship between the two politicians is marked by distrust. Some time ago Brüderle, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), ignored an important call from the chancellor on his mobile phone, a move which didn't exactly improve an already frosty relationship.

The relationship is likely to sink to a new low in the coming weeks. Once again, there are disagreements over energy policy. In the wake of the debate over the future of nuclear power, the government must now address what is to become of Germany's coal industry. There are no indications that the wrangling will produce an outcome that the government will be able to portray as a victory.

Merkel is fighting to keep German coal mines alive, with government subsidies, until 2018, and she is doing so against the wishes of the European Union. In mid-July, the European Commission decided that coal subsidies were to be phased out by 2014. Günther Oettinger, the former governor of the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, who Merkel had installed as energy commissioner in Brussels, had unfortunately skipped an important meeting in the negotiations.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 03:48:58 PM EST
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