Germany’s role in Europe and Europe’s position in the world – these are two of the main themes of the Review debate on German foreign policy. In cooperation with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the Federal Foreign Office therefore organised several discussion events in the European capitals, in order to gather opinions and suggestions from there as well. The series was launched on 9 October in Madrid.
A strengthened, a more integrated Europe – this is the most often named wish of the Spanish participants in the Review process: embedding own strengths and increasing responsibility into the community eventually also serves German national interests.
German Ambassador to Spain Peter Tempel had invited to a lively discussion as part of the Review dialogue on 9 October in his residence in Madrid. Among the participants of the debate that was arranged in cooperation with the Madrid office of the European Council on Foreign Relations were representatives of the government and the opposition, journalists, experts from the foreign ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as from renowned Spanish think tanks.
A specific Spanish sensibility could be noted, also visible due to the painful experience of the economic and financial crisis. Referring to the principle of “Foreign Policy begins at home”, the discussion also concerned German domestic politics: Is Euroskepticism gaining so much weight that it limits the scope for European and foreign policy in Germany? Are the solidarity towards our partners (in the EU and NATO) that has become the essential characteristic of post-war and especially of the reunified Germany and the collectively anchored sense of responsibility for others at stake?
In Spain – in a way from the periphery – there is still great attention paid to any positioning of Germany, especially due to the interdependence between intra-European integration and foreign policy making. The skills of active conflict resolution (and prevention) necessitate the economic and financial stability of partners. The current challenges from ISIS over Libya to Ebola and energy supply as part of the Ukraine conflict demonstrated this.
The discussion about the German “leadership” in Europe brought, as expected, no agreement (What level of management is required or desired? And when does it become dominance?). However, all participants recognised the openness of the Federal Foreign Office to put the basic principles of foreign policy to an open discussion and to listen to the voices of its partners by means of the good cooperation with the ECFR.