Open Europe Blog

A lot of people on both sides of the Europe debate got very excited last month about the ‘Future of Europe’ report produced by a group of EU Foreign Ministers chaired by Germany’s Guido Westerwelle. The report was certainly controversial, not least for suggesting “more majority decisions in the Common Security and Defence Policy sphere… and in the longer-term a European defence policy which for some members could eventually involve a European army.”

As we argued after the report was published:

“There is significant momentum for more integration in economic, fiscal and banking affairs, but its hugely unlikely to spill over into foreign policy which exists in a parallel political sphere… The context for this whole initiative is effectively German domestic politics… For Merkel this serves as a useful exercise at a time when the German government is über-sensitive to accusations that it is not sufficiently ‘pro-European’ – but without actually having to do anything.”

This interpretation has arguably been supported by Merkel’s actions over the BAE/EADS merger, when she pulled the plug on the deal. As the Guardian reported:

“Sources close to the deal said that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had emerged as the most significant obstacle to an ambitious transaction that would have created an industrial behemoth with 220,000 employees worldwide, making products from nuclear submarines and Typhoon fighter jets to the A380 superjumbo.”

“Speaking before the deal was officially terminated, the source said: “The fundamental problem is that Merkel does not feel comfortable with the deal, full stop. The source added that the German leader appeared to have deep concerns over the notion of merging a civil aerospace manufacturer with a defence group.”

So national interest considerations when it comes to defence are not dead yet it appears… even in Germany.

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