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.

The eurozone has emerged from recession, no thanks to austerity

Finally, the recession in the eurozone is over: for the first time for almost two years, the region's GDP has grown again in the second quarter of this year. What is more, leading indicators point to a continuing recovery through the summer and autumn, albeit at a rather muted speed.

While German politicians in particular are now claiming that the recovery is a result of "consistent stability-oriented policy", closer scrutiny shows that this claim is not very plausible. Instead, the turnaround can be directly traced back to a reversal in two important areas of macroeconomic policymaking. First, Mario Draghi's decision from the summer of 2012 to make the European Central Bank to a de facto lender-of-last resort for embattled government. Second, the gradual relaxation of austerity policies in the euro area.

Since the onset of the euro crisis in 2010, policymakers have tried in vain

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Berlin notebook: a placebo for Europe’s youth

Angela Merkel has invited European labour ministers to come to Berlin and discuss youth unemployment. This is despite last week’s European summit having youth unemployment as a central issue - but Berlin, of course, is the new Brussels. (And what about Vilnius? After all, Lithuania has just taken over the EU presidency.) What better evidence could there be that the EU Summit was clearly a low profile gathering, showing a lack of both ambition and answers.

Factually, the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), which aims to support young people in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 percent, will become fully operational by January 2014, and the €8 billion allocated to this in the multi-annual budget will be frontloaded in 2014-2015).

The EU will promote mobility among young job-seekers through the “Your First EURES Job” programme, which aims to help some 5,000 people

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Berlin notebook: fat years for Germany alone

All those who speculated about a change of government, including a substantial change in policy, in Germany after the elections may be disappointed: not only is it likely that the policy may not change, but perhaps not even the coalition. The weakness of the SPD (Social Democrats) is the CDU’s (Christian Democrats) strength. Small signs are emerging and pointing to what may have seemed unlikely (at least for the past weeks): that the coalition of Christian-Democrats and Liberals may simply stay in power.

In Germany, Angela Merkel seems largely unaffected by Hitler paintings or Bismarck analogies, or by a European South that seems to be politically and socially on fire – and European-wide criticism rolls off her skin like water droplets from glass. Instead, it seems to strengthen this embodiment of the "Swabian Housewife", guarding Germany's money without needing the rhetoric or

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The Berlin notebook

Image from Hakan DahlstromA year from now, at the end of May 2014, a new European Parliament will be elected. Before that, in September, the Germans will vote - deciding to keep or eject Angela Merkel, and the make-up of the governing coalition.

ECFR is using this opportunity to launch a new series on our blog – the “Berlin Notebook.” The idea is not only to follow the elections closely from Berlin, and deal with the various questions it throws up, but also to observe the shifts and changes within the new German government in the months ahead of the EP elections. This should help us understand whether or not the year 2014 will be a tipping point; whether or not it becomes the moment when Europe reconciles itself with its citizens, gets serious about integration, starts building a fully-fledged European democracy, and overcomes some old fashioned notions of sovereignty and nationalism.

Looking back, the

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China - Germany: A ‘new special relationship’

This weekend, the newly appointed Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang makes his first offical visit to the EU - he travels to Berlin to meet Angela Merkel. This is a meeting of the two economic powerhouses of the East and the West – and a continuation of the ‘special relationship’ between both countries.

Li has inherited a healthy relationship with Germany built on a “technology for markets swap”. China needs German machinery and technology for its next phase of growth; and Germany needs China’s market to absorb a growing part of its exports. Interestingly, Germany represents close to half of EU exports to China dwarfing France, UK and Italy. Last year we showed that China replaced Europe as as the most desired investment destination for German business. That is particularly striking when it comes to the German car industry: If China’s demand for German cars didn’t exist; car

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