Germany leads Europe: Jettisoning the status quo

Written by on February 5, 2015 in Perspectives - Comments Off on Germany leads Europe: Jettisoning the status quo

Germany is rightly praised in the European Foreign Policy Scorecard 2015 for assuming more leadership in the diplomacy of the European Union. However, Berlin’s new foreign policy role (just like its engagement in solving the euro crisis) is still fragile and is based upon vulnerable domestic foundations. The reason is that Germany’s new responsibility means taking the lead in overturning a status quo that it would prefer to preserve.

Berlin currently enjoys an unequalled position of power in Europe, and for many, the euro crisis has reignited the “German question”: Germany again faces an old dilemma, as a country that is too large for Europe but too small to succeed without the help of its partners. British historian Timothy Garton Ash, for one, wrote in the New York Review of Books in 2013 that the real question for Germany and for Europe was how to use Germany’s immense potential to benefit Europe instead of burdening it. But there seems to be no consensus on the precise nature of the question this time around: Europe’s future hinges on Germany’s decision about its direction, but what does Germany want and how can it achieve it?

German chancellor Angela Merkel presides at a cabinet meeting, January 2015. Photo: Chancellery of Germany.

German chancellor Angela Merkel presides at a cabinet meeting, January 2015. Photo: Chancellery of Germany.

To read the full article, please visit the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

(Main photo: François Hollande, President of the French Republic, Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament: EC Audiovisual Service)

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About the Author

Piotr Buras is a journalist, author and expert in German and European politics. Between 2008 and 2012 he worked as a columnist and Berlin correspondent for “Gazeta Wyborcza”, the biggest Polish daily. He started his professional career in the late 1990s at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw, one of the first Polish think-tanks. He continued his career at the Institute for German Studies at the University of Birmingham and at the University of Wroclaw (Poland). He was also visiting fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin. His recent book “Moslems and the other Germans. The Reinvention of the Berlin Republic” was published in Polish in 2011.