May 16, 2019
In a recent interview, German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls for the unity of EU members to better face the Union’s major rivals China, Russia and the United States. As matters now stand, according to her, the EU cannot yet convert its economic clout into equivalent political power.
In reality however, the EU , through its current political structures, proved more than able to deal with challenges: it imposed hefty fines on American high tech companies, rejected overseas OGM imports, slapped punitive sanctions on Russia and has kept China hanging for years with the recognition of its market economy status. Clearly, the EU does not lack the political and bureaucratic muscle to deal with its major competitors when required.
The German chancellor’s real problem lies elsewhere. For more than a hundred years now, the newly unified, and then re-unified, German state has been trying its darnedest to lord over all other European nations (Deutschland über Alles). As we all know, in the first half of the 20th century, Germany tried to convert the superiority of its military machine into continent-wide hegemony. Its misguided efforts failed miserably, but not before making tens of millions of victims in and around it.
After 1991 Germany tried a different approach. Over the past 3 decades, it has become the biggest per capita exporting nation on earth and the EU’s economic powerhouse. This time, as the heaviest financial contributor to the EU’s coffers, Germany has tried to convert its economic clout into political power by appointing German nationals or German-speaking relatives (like Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, for example, or Klaus Iohannis in Romania, and so on) to key posts within the Union. This political takeover of the EU’s structures is underway, but not entirely completed.
Hence Merkel’s call for “unity”. This presumably has to happen around Germany. The EU member states, however, evidently need to elect their own national political leaders and not German-style gauleiters, as is now the case in Romania. This is in fact what’s in store for the rest of the EU members if they subscribe to the political model of “unity” envisaged by German elites.
The German drive for hegemonism of the continent is possibly the single biggest issue which – if not contained – will wreck the EU. There isn’t a single nation in the Union (save France for the time being) that will accept to be bossed around in an unequal political union, with Germany on top.
To make matters clearer, let’s suppose – for argument’s sake only – that the EU becomes a US-style federation. Would Americans stand it if California took over the political affairs of the United States, as Germany continually tries to do in Europe ? I think not.
In hindsight, we have to recognize the fact that the continent has a recurring German problem and we should make efforts to deal with the situation accordingly. Unfortunately for all concerned, the political wisdom and moderation displayed by Germany’s founder Otto von Bismarck have not been inherited by any of his successors, from Kaiser Wilhelm II down to Angela Merkel.Spotlight on Geopolitics