Germany's Euro-Atlantic policy: Continuity and renewal
The article examines important changes in Germany’s relations with the United States and NATO; identifies new trends in Berlin’s transatlantic policy and strategy and analyses the country’s actions aimed at deepening European integration and increasing the EU's independence in ensuring its own security. German-American relations under D. Trump are experiencing a profound and protracted crisis. Therefore, the emphasis in the defense strategy and security policy of the Federal Republic of Germany began to change. On the one hand, Germany has stepped up its participation in NATO’s military activities. On the other hand, a long-standing non-partisan consensus maintained in Berlin implies that in a crisis situation primarily political and diplomatic means are appropriate and that military measures are a last resort. Close coordination with the allies is essential. In connection with the unilateral US withdrawal from a number of international agreements important for Germany, Berlin’s concern over the unpredictability and inconsistency of the US actions with their European allies is growing. As a result Berlin has adopted a “balanced partnership” strategy towards the United States. Creation of a more independent Europe and a European Union of Security and Defense has become the German policy primary goal.
Despite many controversies, France remains the most important pillar of the German politics’ European vector. The central point of the new Franco-German treaty of January 22, 2019 is an obligation to move towards a convergence of the two countries’ security strategies. PESCO program became the first notable result of such policy. The program is aimed at intensifying the European countries military-industrial cooperation. Berlin sees the program as a long-term possibility to enhance the European influence in the transatlantic alliance and increase Germany’s own responsibility in the defense sphere. In connection with the well-known US and NATO requirements, the question of increasing the Federal Republic of Germany defense budget has acquired particular urgency. Basing on growing international tensions and aggravation of NATO's relations with Russia, Berlin has substantially increased its military spending. But despite this, in the foreseeable future, Germany will remain far from fulfilling the requirement to reach the 2% GDP defense spending target by 2024 (the planned figure is less than 1.5%). Nevertheless no responsible politician in Germany would claim that even in the medium term Germany together with its EU partners will be able to ensure European security without close cooperation with the United States and NATO. At the same time, there are a lot of indications that important aspects of Berlin’s transatlantic policy are undergoing serious and largely irreversible changes. They are connected not only with the “Trump factor” and the Ukrainian crisis, but also with deeper shifts, including the growing influence and “challenge” of China.
Alexander M. KOKEEV, Cand. Sci. (Hist.), Leading Researcher, Sector of Political Aspects of European Integration, Department of European Political Studies.
Kokeev A. Germany's Euro-Atlantic policy: Continuity and renewal. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2019, no 1, pp. 45-58. https://doi.org/10.20542/afij-2019-1-45-58