Kudnani, H. (2015) “The return of the German question: why conflict between creditor and debtor states is now the defining feature of European politics“, LSE EUROPP, 26 Ιανουαρίου.
One of the key geopolitical issues in Europe prior to the Second World War was how the power of Germany could be effectively balanced by other European states. Hans Kundnani assesses the relevance of these historical debates to the current situation within Europe in the aftermath of the Eurozone crisis. He argues that while Germany is no longer a threat from a military perspective, its economic power has put intolerable pressures on other members of the Eurozone, generating instability in much the same way as its previous military power once did. This instability is now centred around the standoff between creditor and debtor countries, underlined by the victory of Syriza in the Greek parliamentary elections, and potential future electoral success for parties such as Podemos in Spain.
During the five years since the euro crisis began, there has much been much debate about German power in Europe. In 1953 Thomas Mann famously called for a “European Germany” rather than a “German Europe”, but it has now become commonplace to speak of a German Europe emerging from the crisis. There has been much debate about actual or potential German “hegemony”. Some serious analysts such as George Soros and Martin Wolf have even perceived the emergence of a kind of German “empire” within Europe – a term that is even stronger than “hegemony”, which implies at least a degree of consent.
Obviously, questions about German power in Europe have a long history. Implicit in the current debate about a new “German question” is the idea that history has in some way returned to Europe and in particular that Germany has in some respects regressed or reverted to a role comparable to the problematic one it had between 1871 and 1945. Even Anthony Giddens has written: “Germany seems to have achieved by pacific means what it was unable to bring about through military conquest – the domination of Europe.” My book, The Paradox of German Power, is an attempt to explore whether Germany’s pre-1945 history is relevant to the current situation in Europe – and if so, how.
- Darvas, Z. (2015) “Greek choices after the elections – there is a chance for an agreement between the new Greek government and euro-area partners with both sides claiming victory at home“, Bruegel Institute, 23 Ιανουαρίου.
- Wolff, Β. G., Fratzscher, M. & Hüther, M. (2015) “The ECB’s bond-purchase dilemma – German opposition to government-bond purchases by the European Central Bank is solidifying ahead of the programme’s likely announcement“, Bruegel Institute, 21 Ιανουαρίου.
- Steinkamp, S. & Westermann, F. (2014) “The role of creditor seniority in Europe’s sovereign debt crisis“. Economic Policy, Vol. 29, Issue 79, pp. 495–552.