What does Germany think about Europe?

Understanding Berlin’s internal debates about its European role


As European leaders hammered out a €120 billion rescue deal for Greece last week, all eyes were again on Chancellor Merkel. Germany’s response to the euro crisis has frustrated its neighbours, and – thanks also to Berlin’s recent decisions on Libya and nuclear power – many are wondering whether Germany has shed its European identity altogether.

Meanwhile, policy-makers in Berlin increasingly feel that Germany has overcome the burden of history, and should pursue its national interests as “normal” countries do. The German public is angry about having to bail out other EU member states, and a recent survey suggests that more than 50 percent of Germans no longer have any faith in the EU.

For the rest of Europe to respond effectively and help Berlin shape constructive responses to Europe’s challenges, it needs to understand the debates taking place within Germany itself. That is the aim of ECFR’s new publication, What does Germany think about Europe?, a collection of essays by German experts on politics, law, sociology, philosophy and the media, edited by Ulrike Guérot and Jacqueline Hénard. The collection explores:

  • The euro crisis debate: One leading German expert defends Berlin’s insistence on austerity, while another argues that the only solution to the crisis is “more Europe.” 
  • Europe’s political future: Two different visions by leading German politicians.
  • The role of Germany’s constitutional court: Was it right to criticise a “democratic deficit” in the EU and restrict further integration? 
  • Media influence: Is the German tabloid press justified in its frustration with Europe, or do the media’s stereotypes damage the quality of debate about the EU?
  • Germany’s youth: Do young people, who lack the historical memories of older generations, take the EU for granted?
  • Has European integration reached a dead end? The prominent philosopher Jürgen Habermas criticises some of the measures taken by European leaders in an attempt to save the euro as undemocratic.

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

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