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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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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Germany votes: what does Bulgaria think?

In the fourth of this series viewing the German elections from elsewhere in Europe, we ask what the Bulgarians think about the vote. 

Germany’s elections are largely a non-issue in Bulgaria, where political life is consumed by a three-month long mass protest demanding the Socialist-led cabinet’s resignation. Germany is also absent on the main foreign policy issue that preoccupies Bulgarians: the war in Syria, which affects Bulgaria thanks to refugees crossing from Turkey. Politicians and pundits alike break spears unpicking the policies of Russia, UK, US, and France, but German foreign policy passivity keeps the country off the radar screen. That’s surprising, as Bulgaria has often taken clues on European matters after looking closely at Berlin. What is more, the centre-right government of Boyko Borissov, in power until March this year, courted Angela Merkel, extolling the virtues

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