European Council on Foreign Relations

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Germany in Europe: More money for Europe!

The Greek (and euro) crisis is not over yet, but already the next issue that is likely to feed the growing public aversion to Europe is in the newspapers: the EU’s financial framework for 2014-2021.

Money for the EU is not something that actually raises sympathy for the EU. Local deputies actually appreciate it if a street, a high-way or a bridge is co-financed by EU structural funds. East Germany’s infrastructure, for example, has largely benefited from this European money (approximately €12.5 billion for the current financial period 2007-2013).

Nonetheless, Germany is a net-contributor and so it is easier to point the finger at French agriculture or the ‘wasted German money’ for cohesion funds (especially in the new member states) – as was recently stated in a conference in the German ministry of foreign affairs.

No wonder therefore, that on the very day the European

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Germany in Europe: Escaping the Greek tragedy

The tragedy has its origins in ancient Greece – 2500 years later, once again, Greece seems to be the place where it all began. So it’s time to take care of the legacy of the crisis!

Recently I had the privilege to partake at the 10th Munich economic summit, where I could listen to Hans Werner Sinn’s (the head of the ifo (one of Germany’s most important economic research institutes)) apocalyptic calculations on the European debt crisis. €1,000 billion were mobilised for the crisis and €4,900 billion credit facilities for the banks. The public debt in Greece is about 143% of GDP, in Ireland 96% and in Germany 83%, and if one is to include the hidden liabilities (e.g. the social system or pension rights), Germany holds a whopping 334% implicit debt. Mr. Sinn did not, however, draw any political conclusions out of these results. Should Greece be kicked out? No, he would not go as far

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ECFR book club: The fall of the West?

This is the second in a series of blog posts looking at books and articles that have changed the way ECFR staff feel about Europe and foreign policy. Click here for more

In the streets around ECFR's London office there are reminders that some institutions are built to endure. There are the buildings of parliament, the ministries of Whitehall, and the pealing bells of Westminster Abbey, coronation site of British monarchs since 1066. The streets are also full of crash barriers and spare ground is being colonised by TV companies. Westminster and the surrounding area is preparing for the latest episode in the long saga (or soap opera) that is the Royal Family - the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

But, as the websites for financial products warn, past performance is no guarantee of the future. Will William and Kate live to become King and Queen, or will they be swept

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Germany in Europe: local votes, European leadership

Regional elections in Germany are over; for now. Chancellor Merkel is left to sweep up the rubble created by her coalition’s political acrobatics on nuclear policy and its attempt at putting lipstick on the German Libya non-vote. While we can hope that, with the state election over, the government will return to a more sincere political style, the behavior of German politicians has exposed perhaps the biggest challenge the European Union will face in the years ahead: the growing disconnect between local politics and a greater European agenda.

The pandering of politicians to local concerns that may come at the cost of greater national or international interests is of course nothing new.  As a political project, the EU has always grown in accordance on how the national politicians and parliaments bridged the gap between a European agenda and local concerns. Now, that Europe has lost

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Mapping why Europe matters

My wife and I were clearing out a few old issues of The Economist a couple of days ago, and came across this fabulous map:

In short, the US is still absolutely enormous.

But this led me to wonder what a similar map would like like for Europe - after all, a good number of the top twenty economies in the world lie between Dingle and Burgas. And so, with perhaps a little bit less finesse than The Economist, is what I came up with... (using 2010 figures from the CIA Factbook)

But some of these matches are hardly exact - especially Germany = Russia. Germany's figure was $2591 billion; Russia's was $2229 billion. So what about trying to work it out more exactly? The results are messy, but here's what I came up with...

So, to put it simply: the EU matters because it is still the largest market in the world (the US + Qatar + Bolivia combined). And if you ever wondered how

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