Time for great gestures

Through the transformation of Greece, Germany and France can lay the foundation for a new culture of partnership and good governance in Europe.

The saga of the Greek debt crisis has laid bare the limitations and perils of intergovernmental summit diplomacy, dominated by the impulses and domestic constraints of heads-of-states and their ministers. This trend has proved particularly disastrous for the deepest area of integration within the European Union – the Eurozone – as fissures among the EU partners have widened and old stereotypes have dominated political debates and national discourses. Emphasizing individual national responsibility, intended as a means to cushion national sovereignty against the effects of deeper integration, has produced the contrary. European integration is once again perceived as the loss of autonomy, with the resulting erosion of European cohesion and the very culture of European integration and partnership.

Against this background the effects of the monetary union on the “European capacity” of its member states need to be reassessed. As intergovernmentalism is increasingly dominating the Union a deeper understanding is needed of the implications it will have on the relations and interactions within the EU. This is particularly relevant for Germany, which has seen its leadership position distorted to selfishly imposing its dominance on others.  Yet within the interlinked crises of Greece and Europe lies an opportunity for renewed European unity. The transformation of Greece, if fully embraced by Germany, France and Greece as a partnership initiative for good governance, administrative and legal reform, has the potential to transform the current EU with it. European reconciliation and integration was once built on unlikely partnerships. Without it the EU would not exist. It is time for the EU member states of today to rediscover genuine political partnership.

This is the summary of a longer piece “Zeit für große Gesten” by Josef Janning, published in German in Internationale Politik in September 2015. To read the full article please click here.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.


ECFR Alumni · Head, ECFR Berlin
Senior Policy Fellow

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