Saturday, May 27, 2006


Europe’s German Leadership

With Germany’s turn at the EU presidency coming in 2007, Chancellor Angela Merkel offers a vision of a revived Europe under German leadership.

To many, including respected analysts, the project for European unity is failing. The evidence is copious: French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution in national referenda; the European Union’s leading nations are unable to conform to a common economic policy as defined by the Stability and Growth Pact; agreement has not been reached on the integration of new countries.

At the heart of the problem, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel put it May 11, “Europe is not very popular among Europeans” (Deutsche Welle,
May 11).

However, like any institution of significance, the EU will find the solution to its problems in its leadership.

Next year, Germany—under the stewardship of Chancellor Merkel—will assume the presidency of the EU. In her first major speech on European policy to the Bundestag (the German parliament), Merkel talked about Germany’s vision for Europe.

In the speech, the chancellor confirmed her unconditional support for the troubled EU constitution: “We absolutely need the constitution to ensure the European Union is effective and capable of action. … We must reflect how we can bring the constitution project to a successful conclusion” (ibid.). The EU Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, has asked that no decision be made on the constitution until 2008, but for the German government, it is not a question of if the constitution will take effect, but how it will be done. Merkel said it is simply a matter of “finding the correct time to act.” Never mind the millions of EU citizens who have rejected the constitution.

Chancellor Merkel also addressed European enlargement. On this issue, her comments are at odds with Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, who will take over the EU presidency in July of this year. Mr. Vanhanen
opposes setting borders for the EU, arguing, “Every European country that shares our values has the right to membership.”

Merkel, quite to the contrary, echoes the comments of her Bavarian counterpart Edmund Stoiber, who has always maintained that Europe needs clearly defined borders. She points out that a “body that does not have any borders cannot act cohesively” (Deutsche Welle, op. cit.). The real issue, of course, is whether or not the predominately Muslim Turkey should be accepted into the EU. Whether the arguments that German politicians make involve borders, cultural unity, or
absorption capacity, the end result will always be the same: No Muslim nation will be allowed to join the EU, which has Roman Catholic roots and whose membership will always reflect that reality.

On those two issues, the chancellor simply reiterated long-standing policy in Germany. But in perhaps the most striking statement by a leading European politician to date, she added: “Europe has to show that it can mold world policy according to its own values (emphasis ours).

Coming from the leader of a revived Germany, that comment should arrest the attention of every politician on Earth. This is not simply a statement of European unity, nor a revealing of European economic and social policy under German leadership. It is an articulation of a breathtaking ambition: that European values—and more specifically, German values—should shape the world!

No politician has raised a peep in protest. A revived German ambition to shape the globe should have students of World War ii shouting from the rooftops. German militarism has been destroyed twice in the last hundred years. After World War ii, the Allied powers resolved to “ensure that Germany will never again be able to disturb the peace of the world.” Now, just 60 years later, will a German-led Europe be allowed—even invited—to reshape the world?

For the unequivocal answer to that question, please read our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

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