News ID: 77424 |
Publish Date: 09:16 - 22 November 2017
A Never-ending Relation
The increasing impact of internal and external unit “unity” on the growth and development of Germany explains why for more than three decades the politician supporters of domestic and foreign unity are victorious. From the time of Helmut Kohl, who is basically known as the “Father of German Union” the Germans have elected Chancellors who support the achievement of internal and external unity. After Kohl, Gerhard Schroeder from the Social Democrat Party had at least common stance with Kohl on accomplishing external unity within the European Union. A politician has succeeded Schroeder, who has become to be known as the symbol of “efforts to maintain unity” in Europe. From the time the calls for separation from the Union arose from some countries such as Great Britain, the Netherlands and Austria, Angela Merkel the current German Chancellor has led great campaigns, which have for objective to preserve the EU structure. For this reason, in parallel to these reactions, the new expression of “Merkelism” has been coined in Europe, which refers to a school of thought and practical efforts to preserve the monetary, economic, social and political unity in Europe, which took shape a few decades ago, and has led to the considerable growth of Germany. It is therefore proper to state that no nation throughout the history of the world has benefitted as much as the Germans from the internal and external political and social unity, and this also explains why currently no nation is as keen as the Germans in defending this type of political and social unity, which has currently manifested itself in the frame of the European Union.
Germany Benefits from the Convergence of EU
Cultural infrastructures and common civilization, politics or national interests! The constant question is that which of the above have for years been the underlying factor for shaping the relations between USA and the European Union. Each factor can by itself be reason enough for convergence or divergence in the two parties’ exchanges and the answer to questions about the fluctuation in the union of Europe and USA caused by changes of governments can be found in the statements of each government.
The Donald Trump rise to power in the USA has made the answer to this question has made the answer to this question much more difficult than before for the European governments. Since his election, the unpredictable businessman has extended his distance with his European allies through his positions, and this may be the reason for some European countries in the Union, which has shrunk from 28 to 27 countries, to seek solutions for stronger unity. In this midst, as an economic power in Europe, Germany seems determined to play a greater role in the Union and could become the main pole in the exchanges of the European Union in the future. Pirooz Izadi, Faculty Member of the Strategic Research Center and Analyst of European Affairs has in the following interview addressed the current challenges of EU in its relations with the USA as well as the role of Germany and other European countries.
The European Union and the USA have traditionally had differences. It appears that the rise in power of Donald Trump has intensified these differences. Do you think the nature of current differences to be equal with what was in the past between EU and USA?
When Mr. Trump took power in USA, he raised a number of questions about cross Atlantic relations. One such issue had a commercial dimension and Trump believed that the trade relations between USA and some European countries, particularly Germany was not equal and that the USA was the loser. Furthermore, the US – German trade balance was leaning towards Germany and the exports of this country were more than USA. On the other hand Europe has to have a greater military expenditure to relieve the US load of its security. This led to a divergence of EU and USA views. Given in the past USA was one of the countries which greatly welcomed and supported the European solidarity, it seems now Mr. Trump is supporting those who oppose the European Union and wants the European convergence to weaken rather than strengthen. At any event, this policy of Mr. Trump seems to continue, unless Europe becomes face to face with a security threat and since the Europeans are still not able to defend themselves single handedly and have not found the degree of independence needed military self defense, the USA will be obliged to interfere and ensure the security of European Union.
Do you think the trend taken by Mr. Trump will lead to EU’s disintegration of will have a direct impact on the convergence within the Union?
EU has taken some steps in reaction to Trump. Especially since Emanuel Macron has become France’s President, he has tried to strengthen the European convergence through some reforms. The European countries have also reached to the conclusion that they must strengthen their military power. In recent months we have seen Germany’s moves to increase its military budget. Mrs. Merkel, the German Chancellor has had a famous speech in which she stressed the need to ensure the European security and become independent of the USA. These talks are to this end and underline the Europeans efforts towards strengthening and solidarity in reaction to Trump. Many consider the victory of Mr. Macron in France with an overwhelming difference over his competitor, who was against the European Union as a reaction to Trump’s stance. Even Trump’s support for Mrs. Le Pen (France’s presidential candidate and Emanuel Macron’s opponent) was to her loss.
Therefore as you pointed out, Germany seems to make greater efforts than other European countries towards the Union’s convergence. Why do you think the Germans are making these efforts?
In the convergence of Europe, particularly since the common Europe was created Germany has been the main commercial beneficiary of this event. Germany is among countries, whose economy is greatly dependent on exports. The solidarity of 28 countries – of course now with Brexit 27 – has provided Germany with a great export market. Germany has benefitted intensely from this situation, and even the countries in debt complained that they had to obtain loans to import goods from Germany. This was one of the reasons, which led to the debt crisis in Greece, Spain and Italy.
What do you think would be the impact of German elections on EU? Could the victory of the Christian Democrat Party strengthen the European Union in this course?
The two main parties in Germany, i.e. the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have relatively the same approach to the European Union and both support the European convergence. For this reason the elections in Germany will not have a major impact on EU. Furthermore, according to many opinion polls Mrs. Merkel is in lead with a great margin, and this indicates that the Germany’s policies in the EU will continue their current trend.
So the statement that in the light of Brexit and the efforts in convergence in the Union Germany could play a determining role in the coming years is correct.
From an economic point of view Germany is the leading country in Europe and has been able to impose its policies on the Union to a great degree. However, now France through its internal reforms is trying to boost its economic strength and become on equal standing with Germany. Paris is trying to revive the famed France – Germany axis enabling it to play as much role in Europe as Germany. Especially since France is stronger militarily than Germany and can have a first class role in Europe. Although from an economic point of view, Germany will continue to maintain its top ranking. Anyway if France succeeds in regained its previous position, one can say that in future the European Union will advance on the two axis of France and Germany.
Contrary to expectations EU has not been able to play an effective role in the Ukraine crisis and many attribute it to the military weakness of the Union. As you mentioned Europe needs the American support due to this weakness. The question is would the two mentioned poles, i.e. France and Germany be able to compensate for this weakness through their cooperation?
At any event the European Union is taking the initial steps towards a defensive convergence. The defense issues are also subjects that have sovereignty aspects and for this reason the topics of defensive convergence have not progressed well in EU. Under the present conditions, especially after the exit of Great Britain, which always maintained that Europe’s security should be ensured in the frame of NATO, the defensive convergence is strengthening in the light of Trump’s policies. Nonetheless this subject is still in its early stages, and if these countries (France and Germany) allocate adequate budget and resources for the purpose and pay appropriate political attention to it, it is quite possible that in the future, the European Union would take serious steps in this direction.
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