From Russia to refugees, from the eurozone to TTIP, from Brexit to President-elect Donald Trump – at a time of radical uncertainties and a fast-changing European and global environment, Germany knows that it cannot escape from more responsibility. At the same time, Berlin is overwhelmed by expectations which it cannot fulfill alone.
On Tuesday night, the unthinkable happened. The most urgent task now is to think about what other previously unthinkable things might follow from Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States.
As an ardent xenophile, ideologically committed to the values of diversity and political and cultural liberalism, though happy to have civil debates about economic and foreign policy, the rise of populism across Europe and other corners of the world is a depressing topic for me.
Having just returned from a week of meetings in Berlin with our current group of Transatlantic Academy fellows, who are all working on German foreign policy, the future of the U.S.-German relationship, and implications for the broader transatlantic world, I came away with a number of impressions. What follows are some of my impressions based on our discussions.
Over the last decade, China and Germany have developed what Jonas Parello-Plesner and I called a “special relationship.” The basis for it was the growth of German exports, in particular automobiles and machinery, to China. This economic symbiosis led to an increasingly close political relationship – in particular, between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the former premier Wen Jiabao.
WASHINGTON — Both U.S. presidential candidates might have recently called Angela Merkel their favorite foreign leader, but there is still plenty of transatlantic conflict stemming from German ideas. On September 14, the EU Commission fired the latest shot in its fight against U.S. tech giants with its proposal to overhaul Europe’s copyright laws for the digital age.
The vote by the British people to leave the European Union has thrust Berlin into an even more pivotal position than it was already in – the future of the EU will now revolve even more tightly around Germany than ever before. In that sense, the United Kingdom has unintentionally created a “more German Europe.”
Historians will probably argue that November 28, 2011 was probably the high moment of Germany’s influence in EU politics. Speaking in Berlin, Radosław Sikorski made a historical remark: “I will probably be first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.
The military scare in Crimea in mid-August, which saw Russia conducting snap exercises and promising “serious consequences” against Kyiv, was intended to put the Ukraine crisis back on Western leaders’ agendas.
The result of the June 23 referendum on British membership of the EU was as unexpected in Britain as in continental Europe. Yet since her virtual coronation as Prime Minister on July 13, Theresa May, has turned the page with élan and authority.