European Council on Foreign Relations

Go to ECFR's "Germany in Europe" page, where you can find publications, commentary pieces and podcasts abut the role of Germany in Europe.

George Soros Q&A part 1

I've just uploaded the first in a short series (two or three in total) of podcasts with George Soros answering questions from assorted journalists at ECFR's London office. Mr Soros was in the building for a press conference for his new book, "The tragedy of the European Union: disintegration or revival?", chaired by Mark Leonard.

The questions ranged widely on every subject from Mrs Merkel's approach to the euro to the Chinese economy. Here is this first podcast:

The issues covered in this chunk of the press conference concerned: Germany's solutions to the euro crisis; Scottish independence; the UK's winning strategy of non-euro EU membership; whether the markets or governments would bring stability to the system; central bank stimulus; and the dangers of anti-EU populism in debtor countries.

More soon!

The past as excuse

Indifferent mercantilism. This, according to the bitterest critics, is the paradigm that has dominated German foreign policy throughout the past legislature. The China of Europe, said the angriest, concerned only with selling weapons, purchasing cheap, plentiful energy, asking few questions about democracy and human rights, and turning its back on any responsibility connected with world peace and security.

We often criticise Angela Merkel’s European policy as short-sighted. Remember when the Spanish foreign minister, José García-Margallo, said that Merkel “always arrived 15 minutes late” at the various euro crises? Well, that was perhaps putting it politely when considering the foreign policy of Merkel and her foreign minister in the previous government, the liberal Guido Westerwelle. It isn’t that the train arrived late, it’s that it never left the station. Why this difference

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Grand Coalition: The only game in town

The announcement came shortly before midnight on Tuesday: there will be no ruling coalition between the Greens and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). No-one wants new elections, the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD) reject the notion of a joint coalition with the Left Party, and Germans almost unanimously dismiss the idea of a minority government by the CDU. So it should be no surprise that SPD and CDU struck a deal today and agreed to formally start coalition talks.

The key questions now revolve around who gets what, with the Finance Ministry being the key bone of contention. Current occupant Wolfgang Schäuble is refusing to budge, but the conservative wing of the SPD has already announced that Social Democrat possession of the Finance Ministry is a prerequisite for a "grand coalition".

Evidently, the Finance Ministry has replaced the Foreign Ministry as the most

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Germany votes: what does Spain think?

In the last of an ECFR blog series looking at how the German elections are being seen around Europe, we turn to Spain. 

Back in 2012, Rajoy's conservative government felt that it was often let down and cornered by Germany. Tensions flared in the first semester of 2012, as Spain’s risk premium exploded and the country was placed on the verge of full intervention by the Troika due to its collapsing savings bank sector. Fearing that the comfortable absolute majority which the conservatives had taken 8 years to build would be wiped away in just one semester, the dominant feeling about Germany was bitterness and criticism over what Spanish elites perceived as sheer intransigence. As Spain missed deficit targets one after another, and social tensions exploded due to austerity induced cuts in health, education, pensions, and labour markets, Rajoy went against his conservative instincts

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Germany votes: what does Britain think?

In the fourth of this series on how Europe sees the German elections, we examine how Britain feels about the vote.

Britain has become comfortable with Mrs Merkel as Europe’s foremost politician. Her sensible demeanour stands her in good stead with a public with an inbuilt suspicion of anybody seen (or supposed) to be peddling greater ambitions for the European Union (as David Cameron’s criticism of José Manuel Barroso bears out). With polls suggesting that she is similarly well thought of among Germany’s voters, most Britons are assuming that things will continue much as they are now once the elections are out the way – notwithstanding residual curiosity over the intricacies of coalition forming, especially after their own recent experience of it.

If Mrs Merkel, thanks to coalition arithmetic, were to be thrown out, Britain might not be quite so sanguine. There’s a real

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