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 Swiss illusion

At the end of last week I attended the Riga Conference, an annual Transatlantic foreign-policy conference that goes back to the 2006 NATO summit. For me one of the most extraordinary moments of the conference came during a panel discussion on the diminishing importance of Europe and the future of the West. The panelists included Julianne Smith, deputy national security adviser to US Vice President Joe Biden, and Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, a former German ambassador to Russia and the UK. During the discussion, a member of the audience asked whether Europe might be becoming a greater Switzerland – rich but neutral and strategically irrelevant. Von Ploetz’s simple response was: “Switzerland is not such a bad country!”

It was a joke, right? Perhaps not. Eberhard Sandschneider is the director of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), the leading German foreign-policy think

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The future of Europe: It’s getting serious

The third year of the euro crisis might be the most important one yet – and with Germany heading for elections next September things are getting serious. In year one of the crisis (2010), Germany was lost and without a strategy, lurching through the events more than being in control. In year two of the crisis (2011) we observed a subtle U-turn und more decisive actions to safe the euro. But the German strategy was not the ‘big bazooka’, but a step-by-step pragmatic approach which certainly disappointed the Anglo-Saxon world. The strategy may be incomplete and flawed especially with respect to the pro-cyclical and painful effects of austerity policy in the South: but it is also true that we see the first signs of success.  

Today, the political system in Europe at large seems in control of the crisis. This is important. Also, we seem to have a shared understanding of what exactly

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The German Constitutional Court and the ESM: What happened?

This is the second blog post by Carlino Antpöhler looking at the finer details of the German constitutional court's ESM ruling. Click here for his first blog post in which he explains the legal background of the case.

The German Federal Constitutional Court’s (FCC) order on provisional measures regarding the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) turned out as expected. The Court in general accepted that the President signs the German acts approving in particular the ESM Treaty. The judges, however, require minor adjustments before the Treaty can be ratified. More concretely, the German government has to make reservations under international law before signing the Treaty. As speculation already had it after the oral proceedings, those reservations indeed concern limitations to Germany’s liability and rights to information of the German legislative bodies.

Art. 8 of the ESM Treaty

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He who comes too late is punished by life

Who would not remember Gorbatchev’s famous (mis)quote?  „Dangers await only those who do not react to life”, the actual quote runs. And it seems to be happening again. EU leaders are stumbling from one EU summit to another in minuscule steps. The political elite failed to tell a bold European story, failed to engage in courageous steps and failed to be honest about what would be needed to save not only the euro, but also to make Europe a powerful player in the 21st century. We need a game-changing institutional European event, which more or less radically shifts the euro into fiscal federalism and the political system of the EU into a fully fletched European democracy. This is why we are confronted with two opposite dynamics: The very moment, the EU finally tries to develop a banking union by establishing a joint supervisory structure for its banking system to allow direct

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Germany and the crisis in figures

In the aftermath of the Eurozone leaders' summit, a number of surveys on the German’s attitudes on the euro crisis were conducted by different institutes.

According to a TNS Infratest survey on behalf of Spiegel Online, Germans are fed-up with the euro crisis. Although they are in favour of giving Brussels more control over national budgets, 54% hardly see any sense in investing billions of euros in the fight for saving the common currency – this opinion holds true for supporters of all major parties with supporters of the Greens still the most optimistic about the future of the euro (64% in favour of attempts to save the euro).

The euro crisis is still viewed as a crisis of the South, despite widespread warnings about how the crisis could damage the German economy, if it is not resolved soon. Despite not yet being affected by the crisis very much, many Germans are afraid of

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