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A Real Face Of The European Union (5)

The push toward further European integration (the EU) and its enlargement was the only way for Berlin to start projecting Germany’s weight in the international arena.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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Part 4

A new geopolitical environment

The European geopolitical environment became drastically changed in 1989 and 1990 as the German unification on November 9th, 1989 (legalized by the German Constitution in 1990) changed a balance of powers and prompted another round of the European unification, however, together with the destruction of three multinational states around: Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the USSR. On one hand, the unification of Germany (in fact, the annexation of the territory of the DDR by the FRG) affected deeply the unification of Europe but on other hand, it infected the separatist movements across Central, South, and East Europe including as well as the Caucasus and provoking the bloody civil wars.[1] Here, we have to remind ourselves that the neutralization of geopolitical tensions between Germany and its European neighbors (primarily France and Poland) was the original short-term goal of the post-WWII European unification. However, unified Germany after 1989, with some 82 million people, is annually participating with around 30% of the EU’s GNP.[2] In other words, unified Germany became a most decisive force within the EU as the end of the Cold War 1.0 allowed Germany to be truly independent and, therefore, it became imperative for Europe to strengthen the economic and political ties with Berlin on one hand, but on other hand, Europe has to be afraid of both German historical revisionism and the policy of Realpolitik.[3]

Full integration of the German economy with the rest of the EU’s Member States came with: 1) The introduction of a single European currency – Euro (€); 2) The Creation of an independent European Central Bank (with the HQ in Germany in Frankfurt (M)). However, main compensations to Berlin to sacrifice solid Deutschemark (DM) and the Bundesbank were:

  1. The European institutions would be reinforced in their powers, moving toward a higher level of supranationality.
  2. Consequently, in such a way, it was overcoming traditional French resistance, and British rejection, to any project approaching federalism.
  3. The Enlargement of the EC/EU toward the north and east (a new Drang nach Osten policy of Berlin).

The push toward further European integration (the EU) and its enlargement was the only way for Berlin to start projecting Germany’s weight in the international arena. Japan, contrary to Germany, however, was not ever able to bury the specters of WWII. Nevertheless, West Germany did it via its full participation in supranational European institutions, as well as in NATO. The EU’s enlargement was and is one of the most strategic geopolitical goals of Germany’s foreign policy for the realization of historical German imperialistic aims in Europe. In the case of the enlargement with Austria, Sweden, and Finland (1995), the focal goal was to balance the EU with richer countries and more developed economies in order to compensate for the inclusion of South Europe (Greece, Spain, and Portugal), with its burden of poor regions. However, in the case of East Europe (2004, 2007, 2013), united Germany via enlarged Europe is trying to play its traditional role of a Central and East European (Mitteleuropa) dominant political, financial, and economic power but without being suspected of reconstructing Otto von Bismarck’s (1862−1890 in office) imperial dream of Drang nach Osten followed by Adolf Hitler as well.[4]

Russophobia

Russophobia became unofficial but quite visible post-Cold War 1.0 policy of both the NATO and the EU what means that all potential new Member States have to accept and implement it as an ideological precondition for the membership. East European countries whose Governments decided to join these two Western organizations, put all kinds of pressures on Germany to join the EU and the USA to join the NATO. However, differently from West European countries, all of the East European candidate states have firstly and mandatory to join the NATO and then the EU. Official Russophobic propaganda had the same cliché: it was done fundamentally for (quasi)security reasons as in their public discourse it was necessary in order to escape from the Russian influence in the future – a syndrome of the fear from Russia. A leading EU’s country – Germany – supported their case intending to establish a territorial buffer zone between its eastern borders and Russia – a new Cordon Sanitaire (the old one was established by France after WWI).[5] However, Russia does not seem to represent a security threat to the West especially in the 1990s when it was the subordination of the Yeltsin Government to Western influence and when the state of the Russian military, and economic conditions of the country, did not allow Russian foreign policy to project ambitions of geopolitical power in Europe but at that time the NATO experienced its first post-Cold War enlargement with East European countries which at the same time sought the EU’s membership too. Quite contrary, the NATO but not Russia showed in 1999 its aggressive and imperialistic face of a global gangster by attacking the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to create a mafia (quasi)state of Kosovo in 2008.[6] Germany used well both the NATO’s and the EU’s umbrellas to project its colonial policy in the Balkans from 1999 onward. Russia is, nevertheless, one of the oldest European cultures which historically several times experienced the Western invasions and occupations including and by those East European countries who joined both the NATO and the EU after the Cold War 1.0 (for instance, Poland and Lithuania).[7]

Problems with enlargement

The enlargement of the EU to the East creates, however, and greater difficulties for effective integration in the EU. The real reason is the vast disparity of economic and technological conditions between the Western Member States of the EU and its new members from the East. From the very administrative point of view, the truth is the larger the number of members, the more complex the decision-making process exists which, in fact, is threatening to paralyze the EU’s institutions reducing the EU to a free-trade area (like EFTA) with a weak degree of political integration and massive burden of the Brussels professional-political bureaucracy.

Nevertheless, these problems and challenges, in fact, have been the focal reason why the UK supported the process of enlargement: The larger and more diverse the membership, the lower the threat to national sovereignty! However, there was a paradox of seeing the FRG (the most federalist country) and the UK (the most anti-federalist country) supporting enlargement of the EU for entirely different reasons. As a matter of fact, all new eastern Member States have their economies deeply penetrated by the European investment but mainly German that is, in fact, an economic German Drang nach Osten after 1989. All of them are as well as largely dependent on exports to the EU and mainly to Germany. Ultimately, the enlargement of the EU toward the East is forcing reform of its political institutions but and Brexit too.

The Maastricht Treaty and superstate

The reform of EU’s political institutions basically started from the very beginning of the EU herself: by the Maastricht Treaty – signed on February 7th, 1992, and came into force on November 1st, 1993. The reform brought by the Maastricht Treaty was to a great extent a preparation for the eastward enlargement. The Treaty was revised in the Intergovernmental Conference held in 1996−1997, after the Danish and French referenda, and British parliamentary opposition threatened to reject it. The Maastricht Treaty reflected the compromise between different interests concerning the issue of the European supranationality. The focal Maastricht Treaty’s decisions were: 1) The introduction of the common Euro currency; 2) The establishment of the European Monetary Institute; and 3) The harmonization of fiscal policies. The process of economic and political integration in the EU was confirmed in December 1996 by the Stability and Growth Pact reached in Dublin.

By these focal decisions, the Maastricht Treaty made an irreversible commitment to on one hand a fully integrated economy of the EU, but on another had to the creation of the European supranational superstate. Therefore, those decisions have been followed by the reinforcement of the decision-making power of the European institution: 1) Making it more difficult to form a blocking minority vote in the European Council; and 2) The European-wide policies began to take precedence over national policies with the ultimate result that national states lost their significant part of political sovereignty.

The first challenges to common foreign policy and security

Political integration of Europe into a superstate was symbolized by the change of official name from the European Community to the European Union with the final political task to create the United States of Europe. However, in the 1990s, foreign policy, security, and defense were not truly integrated as they had to be according to the Maastricht Treaty. In other words, there were different EU’s policies towards the Yugoslav civil war in 1991−1995 followed by the Kosovo War in 1998−1999. It was the catastrophic management of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992−1995 by the EU which gave NATO credibility to assert itself as the fundamental security instrument of the EU in close alliance with the USA. However, the final words concerning the settlement of the conflicts on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia have not been of the EU but rather of the USA.

The election of a Spanish Socialist leader, Javier Solana, to the post of Secretary-General of the NATO in December 1995 symbolized political and military coordination of policies of the EU and the USA. He will become later in October 1999 (after the bombing of Serbia and Montenegro) Secretary-General of the European Council. Nevertheless, Ch. de Gaulle’s dream of a European military and strategic independence vis-à-vis the USA was over and truly speaking, the UK and Germany never wanted this independence. As a result, the EU became deeply dependent on the USA in strategic terms. The 1998−1999 Kosovo War showed the dependence of the EU on NATO as the indispensable military tool of its foreign policy. It is obvious that for technological and geopolitical reasons the EU’s defense system will still operate in close coordination with the USA. The focal reasons why the USA is the indispensable partner of the EU’s defense policy are its technological superiority and the willingness to use its taxpayer’s money to pay for superpower status in global politics. Nonetheless, since 1999, the USA is a key node in a complex network of strategic decision-making of the EU’s foreign and security policy.

Final remarks

The European integration after 1945 has been based on a sophisticated concept of shared leadership to manage its inherent tension between large and small countries – a trait the EU shares with all federal experiences. Three mechanisms, in particular, preserved the basic principle of equality among the Member States, while giving to the larger ones a preponderant role:

  1. The system of weighted votes in the European Council.
  2. The role and composition of the EU’s supranational institutions.
  3. The rotating Presidency.

Successive enlargements have made these mechanisms ever less adapted to the functioning of the European Union. As the number of small states has grown much more rapidly than the number of large states, the institutions which guaranteed equality among states have seemed less defendable to the larger ones. By the time the Convention on the Future of Europe was convened, a new bargain was needed to reconcile the principles of equality among states and proportional democratic representation in the EU.

It is known that Germany always wanted to dominate over Europe and it is a fact in our days that united Germany is the ruling power of the European Union which is just giving the umbrella for Berlin’s traditional projects of a Mitteleuropa and Drang nach Osten from the time of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation up to the European Union.

Finally, the post-WWII policy of the European unification was passing the path from several European Communities to the EU with the ultimate geopolitical task for the near future to establish the United States of Europe.

End of the article.

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

Ex-University Professor

Research Fellow at Centre for Geostrategic Studies

Belgrade, Serbia

www.geostrategy.rs

vsotirovic@yahoo.com

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2023

References:

[1] See, for instance [Moorad Mooradian, Daniel Druckman, “Hurting Stalemate or Mediation? The Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, 1990−1995”, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 36, No. 6, 1999, 709−727; Jelena Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize 1990−2000, I−II, Beograd: IGA”M”, 2003; Shale Horowitz, “War after Communism: Effects on Political and Economic Reform in the Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia”, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2003, 25−48].

[2] Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total sum of goods and services that is produced by one state in a given year but not including goods and services that are produced abroad by domestic individuals or companies. Gross national product (GNP) is a total value of all goods and services produced by a country in a year, whether within the state’s borders or abroad. Gross national income (GNI) is measuring the market value of goods and services which are produced during a certain period (usually within one calendar year) and provides an estimate of a state’s total agricultural, industrial and, commercial output.

[3] This is a German term that became widespread from the time of the German Chancellor (PM) Otto von Bismarck. The term means in IR studies a cold calculation of a state’s national interests regardless of the human or moral aspects of its realization. The term is usually understood as an essence of Realism theories on global politics based on “ruthlessness” [Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013, 713]. Realism is a political view that operates with power as the fundamental point of politics claiming, therefore, that international politics is in essence power politics behind which is a principle of Realpolitik. The advocates of Realism argue that international politics is a struggle for power for the sake to deny other states the capacity to dominate. Subsequently, a balancing of power became a central concept in IR developed by the realists. If there is a single world hegemon, global politics is going to be just a struggle between the GP in seeking both political, military, economic, financial, etc. domination and preventing other states or actors from dominating [Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, Steve Smith (eds.), International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity, Third Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 59−93]. Nevertheless, in a global struggle for power, Realpolitik is an unavoidable instrument for the realization of national goals what means that the use of power, even in the most brutal way, is quite necessary and understandable as it is an optimal means to accomplish foreign policy’s aims. That was, for instance, clearly expressed in 1999 during the NATO aggression on Serbia and Montenegro (from 24th of March to 10th of June) which included very much German forces as well.

[4] See more in [P. J. Katzenstein (ed.), Mitteleuropa Between Europe and Germany, Providence−Oxford, 1997].

[5] Robert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries, A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change, London−New York: Routledge, 1999, 407−516. About the relations between Russia and the EU, see in [Срђан Перишић, Нова геополитика Русије, Београд: Медија центар Одбрана, 2015, 234−245].

[6] Hannes Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratak kolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009; Пјер Пеан, Косово: „Праведни“ рат за стварање мафијашке државе, Београд: Службени гласник, 2013.

[7] See, for example [Ignas Kapleris, Antanas Meištas, Istorijos egzamino gidas: Nauja programa nuo A iki Ž, Vilnius: Briedis, 2013; Jevgenij Anisimov, Rusijos istorija nuo Riuriko iki Putino: Žmonės. Įvykiai. Datos, Vilnius, Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras, 2014].

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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David S
David S
January 25, 2023

Disagree. By being forced to give up the DM at the threat of war Germany became a permanent state under occupation. Drang und Osten might have worked economically for a while but being under occupation undermined the pinnings of a real German European Union.

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