What does the EU’s most populous member state – it’s economic powerhouse – think about geopolitics? For many years following the fall of communism in Europe, the answer might have been ‘it doesn’t think about it at all’. In the wake of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, that is no longer an option.
Chancellor Scholz recognized this just days after the invasion, calling it a Zeitenwende, or ‘historic turning point’ and declaring that securing Europe’s freedom, democracy and prosperity meant that Germany needed ‘a strength of its own’. Security expert Katarina Engberg, a long-time observer of German EU and foreign policy, examines the development and deployment of this strength, so far, and reports on the current thinking in Berlin of the new political and security context.
On the basis of extensive recent interviews with officials of the Federal Government as well as published policy documents and, the analysis presents German thinking on:
The country’s political and military role in Eastern Europe (the key relationship with Poland, its increased contribution to NATO, the provision of weapons for Ukraine)
How Germany intends to navigate a more heterogenous Europe (in small steps and multiple formations), and
The effect of this new context on the Franco-German relationship, traditionally the ‘engine’ of European integration but which has recently been heard spluttering.
Engberg concludes that as the context continues to change, and as Germany assumes a decisive role – it is on course to be a major military power – it will continue to be criticized for its action and its inaction.