Berlin has a challenge in the coming months: not to confuse Europe with Germany


The date of July 1 was long marked on all Brussels calendars. It is the day that Germany, for the last time in the Merkel era, takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. For years, hopefully the second half of 2020 has been talked about in the meeting rooms of the hotels of the community capital and in practically all the restaurants of the ‘European bubble’. When Germany would finally adopt a revolutionary agenda to compensate for what has been seen as a total lack of leadership and ambition in recent years. The presidency’s calendar is clear: a recovery fund must be negotiated after covid-19 and the future financial framework must be closed multi-year. Some people expect big changes from Berlin that generate some concern among diplomats, because it is not among their plans for the next six months. Germany promises to help Spain because its well-being depends on its recovery E.P. “Our prosperity in Germany depends to a great extent that our companies can sell their products abroad or buy there “The real challenge for Germany during this presidency will be somewhat less discussed but much more relevant and with a huge long-term impact: Berlin has to achieve, in the next six months, stop confusing Europe with Germany. Failing to confuse European interests with Germans is the only way that real leadership can be expected from Berlin. That problem, confusing Germany with Europe, has left the EU deficient in two crucial elements: solidarity and sovereignty. Two words that have been heard a lot in recent days and that will be the central axes of the presidency. These are the two keys that can crystallize in what many hope: that at some point the European leadership in Germany will become a reality and not so much the German leadership in Europe. The German chancellor, during a press conference. (EFE) German DNA Far from this, the confusion between Europe and Germany, being the product of evil thinking on the part of German elites, it is actually a normal consequence of the political culture of a country that escapes from the schemes that can be see in the rest of Europe and the world. There is an idea repeated on numerous occasions when talking about the political soul of Germany that helps to understand this approach: “We are proud not to be proud.” And it is that, as Professor Stefen Auer wrote in a 2018 article for the magazine ‘ Government and Opposition ‘, from the University of Cambridge, certain elements that are in the DNA of German politics, which always avoids conflict and seeks consensus as the supreme political value, at the same time that it always lives aware of its historical responsibility derived from Its role during the 20th century makes the European project at the heart of its idea as a country. These are very particular characteristics that only occur in a Germany that rejects some concepts and ideas common in other countries: An economic giant but a political dwarf: why does Germany not lead the EU? Antonio Martínez. BerlinIn the current hectic international context, the EU needs Germany to take its lead in tackling the myriad challenges facing the community club, both internal and external “Germany’s preference for anti-conflict policy raises concerns about the very notion of power and its traditional vehicle, national sovereignty. That helps explain Germany’s exemplary commitment to European integration, ”Auer writes in his document. But that commitment is based on a misconception and that has been at the core of Berlin: Europe is, in a way, a continuation of Germany, a step further in the post-national ambition that has accompanied the country after the Second World War and that it peaked during unification. This confusion has led to poor and sometimes damaging leadership by Germany, which time after time has devoted itself to a motto: “What is good for Germany is good. for Europe ”. But the reality is completely different, as has been demonstrated on numerous occasions in recent years, especially during the management of the eurozone crisis. The confusion has generated a lack of solidarity due to the manifest inability to understand and integrate the priorities, needs and urgencies of others. German flag next to that of the European Union. (Reuters) Towards leadership and solidarity However, something has happened in recent months. The coronavirus crisis, which has generated an unprecedented economic ‘shock’ for the European Union since World War II, has caused Merkel to see the precipice. And that commonly used phrase, “what is good for Germany is good for Europe” is finally turning around: “What is good for Europe is good for Germany”. And there can be leadership. For the past three years, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has tried, in vain, to get the German chancellor involved in his idea to renew Europe. At times, Berlin has offered Paris its hand, but only to stifle any ambition with it, as was seen with the idea of ​​a budgetary instrument for the eurozone, but the covid-19 has caused the whole EU to stumble, first to economically, with an enormous risk of increasing the already existing divergence between north and south, which is still a realistic scenario, and at a social level, with a north-south split due to the lack of solidarity in the first moments. Where is the EU against the coronavirus? Where is your Government Nacho Alarcón. Brussels There is no single answer to that question. The short way to answer it is: on her television, she is the Prime Minister, and the presidents and heads of government of the rest of the Member States In mid-May, Macron and Merkel presented a revolutionary plan: to issue half a trillion. That apparent small step was a leap forward, including deadly pirouette, for German politics. Since then, Merkel insists on a speech in which she demands solidarity and sacrifice to help the hardest hit countries. The chancellor has begun to defend an idea that Spain has promoted in recent weeks and that has penetrated deep into the German Ministry of Finance: for Germany to flourish, the single market is necessary, and there is no single market if Spain and Italy are not saved. . To save Germany, you have to save Europe. That change of discourse, even if it seems small, is crucial. The messages are hopeful. The tectonic plates of German thought, which is largely EU thinking, cannot be expected to change overnight. But something moves, and it does in the indicated direction. The question is whether Merkel and the German government take advantage of the next six months to, using the unexpected social support that their turn of the wheel has had among German voters, crystallize a new way of understanding Europe from Berlin. Because that will be the path to real and effective leadership of Germany in the European Union. The French president talks with the German chancellor this Monday in Meseberg. (Reuters) Sovereignty Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, assured on Monday that the German presidency will be based on two words: solidarity and sovereignty. The same two words used by Macron during a press conference also held on Monday with the German chancellor This election is not accidental, and both terms are strictly linked to what must be achieved with the German leadership: solidarity and sovereignty. The lack of solidarity has been largely a product of the way in which Germany has understood the European project, and there are first bases for changing it. And the absence of real sovereignty also has to do with German political DNA and its allergy to the idea of ​​power. Europe is largely made up of German ideas. Not in vain, the idea of ​​Europäische Rechtsgemeinschaft (European community of laws) is a German product, a reflection at European level of the German vision of law and law as the central element of political life. And just as that principle was printed, something that is due to the first president of the European Commission, the German Walter Hallstein, a certain rejection of the idea of ​​power was also printed, especially to exercise it, at least directly. beyond Calviño or Borrell: power and influence in the plumbing of Brussels Nacho Alarcón. BrusselsThe recovery of the weight in the EU is not only related to the party in the Government. The fundamental element has been the economic recovery and the perception of Spain as a ‘good student’Josep Borrell, high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, insists, whenever he can, on a premise: Europe must learn to speak the language of power. It has the capacity but not the will, just like Germany. And that may be the other great contribution of the German presidency. This change is already underway, but the next six months can be used to make it finish taking shape. It consists of defending European sovereignty and the strategic independence of the EU. This has to do, fundamentally, with restraining China on different issues, something that is already being attempted with new commercial tools that have generated few good words since Beijing, and with becoming less dependent on the United States in some matters such as defense. and security Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. (EFE) Escaping the crisis Everyone expected this presidency not because it was German, but because it was Merkel’s last. Although the chancellor has made many mistakes and has delved into the erroneous idea of ​​”what is good for Germany is good for Europe”, it is true that the German leader is the only one with a real and complete vision of the European project during The last decades. The only one that dedicates time, effort and thoughts to the idea of ​​Europe. And, perhaps for that reason, we now see a certain change in the discourse. In a recent interview with European media, including ‘La Vanguardia’, Merkel touches different points on the European agenda. And it gives a key: the crisis. The German notes that Europe remains unprepared for crises. Because in part the European construction is based on the idea that institutions and progress take place during them, which often generates a comfortable and dangerous attitude: first the crisis and then the changes. This is an idea derived from a lack of leadership. The urgency as the only valid political element in Europe generates, in addition to unnecessary risks, a democratic deficit that will end up happening, if not already, a huge invoice to the Union. A new leadership based on solidarity and a new strategic vision built on sovereignty, added to Germany’s ambition for a post-national future, which is a basic element of the European project, can make the EU a much firmer and more promising reality. There will be no revolution in the next six months, but Germany now has all the foci and it is your opportunity to demonstrate that the changes that are beginning to appear are here to stay.