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2022 | Book

Germany and the European Union

How Chancellor Angela Merkel Shaped Europe

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About this book

This book aims to present a coherent picture of Germany’s European policy during Merkel’s chancellorship. At the same time, it traces the development of the EU in the period 2005–2021. Accordingly, the European crises and the internal and external threats to the integration community are addressed, as well as the jointly developed solutions. Thus, on the one hand, the book shows what Germany was willing to do for Europe; on the other, it reveals how the EU was able to develop further as the most important point of reference for German politics and power.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction
Abstract
The Federal Republic of Germany has been at the center of the European unification and integration process from the very beginning and continues to be so today. Since German reunification in 1990, the country’s power to shape the future has undoubtedly increased further and reached a peak during Angela Merkel’s long chancellorship. The following analysis of Germany’s European policy during the Angela Merkel era (2005 to 2021) sticks to the assumption that European unification and further European integration as Germany’s central raison d’état continues to be crucial and remains valid; it recognizes, however, that the conduct of Germany’s European policy has changed over time, becoming decidedly more sober and articulating its own interests openly and unashamedly.  One might speak of a pragmatization of the unified Germany’s European policy. Angela Merkel’s 16-year chancellorship was marked by an almost continuous crisis context. The book attempts to highlight the broad lines of Germany’s offers to addressing the issues, resolving the crises and thus shaping Europe. By proceeding this way, the volume also traces the big lines of development of the EU in the period 2005–2021 and contributes to reconstruct the EU's integration history.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 2. Angela Merkel as Europe’s New Hope?
Abstract
Angela Merkel, a citizen of the defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR), has had a remarkable career in politics in the newly reunified Germany. In 2005, she was elected head of government and took office as Germany's first female chancellor. Angela Merkel soon became a European figure of light, a beacon of hope for Europe due to her sober, unpretentious and pragmatic policy style and her willingness to engage in fair financial burden sharing. Thus, in the fierce struggle about the EU’s financial framework for the period 2007–2013, Chancellor Merkel decided to cede €100 million from the funds dedicated to Eastern Germany to Poland. This generous gesture became the basis for Merkel's later legendary reputation as an efficient and skilled mediator and an outcome-oriented problem solver, in short: as a great European leader.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 3. Germany and the Lisbon Treaty
Abstract
In 2005, the European Constitutional Treaty had been rejected by referendums in France and the Netherlands. It therefore was Germany's main and Herculean task to relaunch the constitutional process during its EU Presidency in the first half of 2007. Indeed, the constitutional crisis could be overcome and the treaty reform process nearly accomplished. Germany adopted successfully the strategy to preserve as much as possible of the Constitutional Treaty's substance. Thus, the European Council of June 21–22, 2007, on a breakthrough summit, was able to agree on a draft mandate for the following intergovernmental conference. But there was a price to be paid for this success. Thus, a number of bitter cutbacks to the Constitutional Treaty had to be accepted, but all in all, the substance of the Constitutional Treaty was largely preserved. Germany and Chancellor Merkel had once again earned great merits in the integration process and the shaping of Europe. Due to various problems in the following ratification process, the Lisbon Treaty came into force only in December 2009.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 4. Germany’s Role in the Euro Crisis: Europe’s Disciplinarian or Indispensable Leader?
Abstract
The euro and sovereign debt crisis can be seen as the prelude to a long series of crises for which former Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker coined the term “poly-crisis”.  The concrete course of the management of the euro crisis represents a kind of turning point for German European policy. Germany’s handling of the Euro crisis had a lasting impact on and changed the reputation of Germany’s role in European policy. In the Euro-rescue process, Germany under Angela Merkel adopted a strict course geared toward financial stability and fiscal consolidation. Accusation came up that Germany was acting as Europe’s disciplinarian. In May 2010, under the motto of “If the Euro fails, Europe fails”, Angela Merkel decided to finally actively support Greece and other Eurozone countries affected by the crisis. In return for German aid, Berlin demanded structural reforms and a strict austerity policy. Furthermore, Germany acted as a veritable veto player in the extremely contentious debate on the creation of joint government bonds for all Euro states (Eurobonds). New Euro governance structures, such as the Fiscal Compact, also had a very strong German signature. It remains to be said: In the Euro rescue process, Germany has acquired the negatively connoted image of the strict and self-interested disciplinarian of Europe. It can be assumed that this negative image has triggered a certain impact in some further stages of the EU poly-crisis such as the refugee crisis.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 5. Angela Merkel and the Refugee Crisis of 2015: Events, Decisions and Consequences
Abstract
Without a doubt, the so-called refugee crisis that peaked in 2015 has shaped Angela Merkel’s many years as chancellor in an exceptional way. The refugee crisis had been predicted for some time but culminated in September 2015. This drove Chancellor Merkel to the contentious decision, on September 4, 2015, to leave the German borders open for refugees and to coin her famous dictum “Wir Schaffen Das” (“We Can Do This”). The total number of people seeking asylum in Germany in 2015 and 2016 had been confirmed at 1,222,194. In total, 1,8 million people arrived in the EU as refugees in 2015. Therefore, the crisis also put the poorly-prepared EU under enormous pressure to act. With the intent to reach a fair distribution of refugees among the EU member states, the Juncker Commission conceived a relocation mechanism with a binding quota system. The Council finally reached an agreement on September 22, 2015, by a historic qualified majority decision, but renouced a madatory relocation system. Several, mainly Eastern member states strongly opposed any kind of  relocation and resettlement plans. All this led to a deep, long-lasting, and momentous division of the EU with regard to refugee issues.  After the decision on the “EU-Turkey statement” of March18, 2016, the number of people trying to reach Europe via Turkey dropped drastically. On September 23, 2020, the European Commission presented "The “New Pact on Migration and Asylum”, but debates still continue. Thus the search for a comprehensive and effective reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), staying in line with the values of the EU,  remains incomplete.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 6. EU Enlargement Policy in the Merkel Era
Abstract
Undoubtedly, enlargement policy belongs to the constitutional European policy of each member state because that state's own ideas regarding the geographical expansion of the EU and possible new members are adressed. For Germany, too, this is true. EU enlargement policy has always been an extremely effective instrument and a powerful lever to expand the sphere of action and influence of the integration community, and to contribute to the democratization, stabilization, and prosperity of the new members, as the enlargement rounds since the 1970s impressively demonstrate. During Angela Merkel’s entire term as chancellor, however, enlargement was not a focus of German European policy. Moreover, since 2006, and with German support, the EU has undertaken a clear change of course in its enlargement policy which nowadays proceeds in an increasingly cautious and reluctant manner. This chapter will inform about the state of play of the protracted and complicated accession processes of the Western Balkan states and of Turkey. It is argued that whereas the former could deepen their European perspectives—even to very diverging degrees—over the last decade, Turkey hardly has any more accession perspective at present.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 7. Germany’s Contribution to EU Foreign and Security Policy
Abstract
Within Germany’s wide-ranging commitment to European integration foreign policy and even more so security and defense policy have traditionally been of comparatively secondary importance. This is chiefly a consequence of the longevity of Germany’s postwar role concept with its pronounced reluctance to use military force. But due to the changes triggered at the international level by the end of the cold war, the EU embarked, with the Maastricht Treaty,  on launching the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and, a few years later, of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). Germany under Merkel supported these endeavour, but initially without great enthusiasm. International upheaval, namely the increase of unilateralism, authoritarianism, and nationalism in several countries, the successful Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election, however, heralded a significant turning point for EU foreign, security and defense policy, with major challenges also for Germany. This chapter will inform about recent numoerous advancements in CFSP and—even more so—in CSDP (the launch of PESCO, for example, or the recent adoption of the “Strategic Compass for Security and Defense”); furthermore it will highlight the manifold German contributions and explain the new foreign and security policy role model that has been developed for the EU in recent years. Thus, the strive for European sovereignty or for European strategic autonomy has to be outlined with a special focus on Angela Merkel's positioning.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 8. EU Climate Protection Policy and Germany’s Ambivalent Role
Abstract
For decades, the European Community/European Union (EC/EU) has been an indispensable leader of environmental and climate protection policy.  Thus,  the EU has been instrumental in bringing about the first international climate protection regime: The Kyoto Protocol. With its “20–20-20 by 2020” formula, decided in 2008, its ambitious targets for the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and the breakthrough decision of 2020 to reach for climate neutrality by 2050, the EU is highly committed to fighting climate change and to lead the way. Formerly a strong pioneer in climate and environmental policy, Germany during the Merkel governments has come to play a more ambivalent role, by protecting strongly its car industry, for example. The devastating reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011 brought about the German energy turnaround (Energiewende); by deciding to phase out nulcear power, Germany has been bound to swiftly develop renweables energies, but also to use fossil fuels such as coal and gas. Therefore, Germany hindered, at several occasions, the EU to adopt an even more amitious climate policy. After a seminal sentence of the German Federal Constitutional Court, on April 2021, however, Angela Merkel changed her mind and opted for tightening the German and EU CO2 reduction targets, thus enabling the EU to reach, in December 2020, a climate policy breakthrough and to regain global leadership.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 9. Increasingly Limited Scope for German European Policy: Parliament and Federal Constitutional Court
Abstract
In the decades since German unification, restrictions have emerged that severely limit the aspiration, ambition, and openness to the future of Berlin’s European policy. Germany’s federal system comes in here. Thus, the rights of participation of both the Bundestag and the Bundesrat as well as of the Länder (the federal states) to Germany's European policy have been extented noticeably over the years. However, neither of them have used these new participatory rights to act as veto players. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany—FCC (Bundesverfassungsgericht—BVerfG), by contrast, has, by several more recent rulings of outstanding importance, limited the scope of Germany's European policy and Merkel's room for maneuver substantially. This will be evidenced by analyzing the FCC's Lisbon ruling of 2009 as well as the PSPP Proceedings of 2020, concerning the Public Sector Asset Purchase Program of the European Central Bank, the former formulating clear limits to the German integration prospects, and the later causing severe tension with the European Court of Justice. Whether the latest attempts of the FCC to calm down these tensions  mark a sustained change of course must remain an open question yet.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 10. The Corona Reconstruction Fund (Next Generation EU) and the Regime of Conditionality to Enforce the Rule of Law: Historic Breakthroughs under German Council Presidency 2020
Abstract
Under the pressure of the COVID-19 (Corona) pandemic that has been gripping the world and the EU in particular since the beginning of 2020, Chancellor Merkel, toward the end of her time in office, embarked on a European policy path that was tantamount to a paradigm shift. Indeed, in order to enable the EU to resolve the severe consequences of the pandemic, Angela Merkel broke the long lasting German taboo to stiffly object any kind of common debt at the European level. Starting from a Franco-German initiative of May 2020 and after an arduous process of "Europeanization" of this common proposal, the European heads of state and government enacted decisions of truly historic importance. First, they decided on the establishment of a Corona Reconstruction Fund, renamed Next Generation EU (NGEU), which consists in grants and credits with a volume of €750 billion. Second, they chose to linking an access to EU funds to compliance with the rule of law. To this end, the European Council set up a regime of conditionality to protect the budget and Next Generation EU. It was only after fierce struggle that these breakthrough decisions could be reached in December 2020.  Holding the EU Presidency in the second half of 2020, Angela Merkel and her government contributed substantially to these utmost important achievements. Now the member states, who already are eligible for the fund, must make the best possible use of this unique NGEU opportunity.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Chapter 11. German European Policy in the Merkel Era: An Attempt to Take Stock
Abstract
At the outset of this book, the thesis was put forward that European policy in the Angela Merkel era continued to adhere to the prevailing German reason of state, which aims to preserve, further develop, and secure the future of the European integration process and therefore also the future of the EU as a whole. Trying to take stock of German European policy in the Merkel era, I conclude that the chancellor kept true to this goal. The chancellor's room for maneuver, however, was clearly and increasingly limited, mainly due to the jurisprudence of the German Federal Constitutional Court on the one, and to deteriorating external conditions on the other hand. Against this backdrop and under the device of “What is good for Europe was and is good for us,” Angela Merkel steered Germany's European policy in all the years of the poly-crisis with pragmatism, hardheadedness, and sobriety. Her sometimes hesitant, yet reliable, hardworking, sober, analytical, and unpretentious political style has left its own unique mark on Germany’s European policy over the past 16 years and has become the basis of Merkel's legendary reputation as a great European leader, as an efficient and skilled mediator and an outcome-oriented problem solver. Indeed, Angela Merkel has often been referred to as Europe’s chancellor. This also describes her role as a stateswoman who always avoided polarization, patiently sought to bridge conflicts and to find viable solutions for all. More than everything else, Angela Merkel sought to hold the EU together even in times of crisis, increasing differences and trends towards disintegration. Finally, Merkel was able—when extraordinary circumstances demanded it—to take extraordinary decisions. Indeed, Angela Merkel substantially contributed to shape Europa in her years in office. She leaves a tremendous European policy legacy to her successor.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Backmatter
Metadata
Title
Germany and the European Union
Author
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet
Copyright Year
2022
Electronic ISBN
978-3-031-10627-9
Print ISBN
978-3-031-10626-2
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-10627-9

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