The Brief – Germany must relearn the language of power – EURACTIV.com

Germany’s dialogue-based and peace-oriented approach to the European security architecture has resulted in considerable economic and diplomatic successes in the past, but it is increasingly clear that the largest country in the EU must (re)learn the language of power if it wants to play a role in the international security order of tomorrow.

Berlin’s approach to foreign policy has always been clouded by the dark chapters of its modern history. “Never again” was the slogan that underpinned his foreign policy efforts over the past decades and made military action taboo.

However, in an increasingly hostile world, where autocracies actively promote an alternative to the Western model of liberal democracy, a foreign policy rooted solely in the promotion of peace – come what may – is doomed to failure.

Amid ongoing tensions with Russia, Germany still clings to its narrative of being a force for world peace and good: not sending arms to Ukraine, blocking supplies of arms of the allies and avoid alienating Russia at all costs.

This is particularly visible in the language used by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. While he repeats several times that any Russian invasion of Ukraine would be sanctioned by severe sanctions, he never specifies what these sanctions would really entail.

When US President Joe Biden announced he would shut down Nord Stream 2 if Russia launched an attack on Ukraine, Scholz stood beside him – in silence.

“It’s part of the process that we weren’t putting all (possible sanctions) on the table,” Scholz replied after being asked by reporters about the controversial pipeline.

His reluctance to rephrase even Biden’s publicly spoken words speaks volumes about German fear of doing or saying anything that could jeopardize a potential peace process in Ukraine or anger the Kremlin.

Better to say nothing than to take a clear position and face a potential political backlash – that seems to be Berlin’s motto in the crisis.

This conciliatory approach has long worked for Germany. This has enabled the global export champion to build close ties with everyone across the globe and advance its industrial production through international trade.

However, the approach fell out of time in a world dominated by great power competition and international disorder. Vladimir Putin – considered by many to be the embodiment of power politics – will only listen to the language he understands: the language of power.

For a long time, the EU has also been stuck with its soothing language – much to the chagrin of its transatlantic allies. This became painfully obvious when the Ukrainian crisis spiraled out of control in 2014.

A leaked phone call revealed the US’s true feelings about the EU’s role in the process at the time.

Victoria Nuland, then the U.S. point person for the Ukraine crisis and current undersecretary for political affairs, expressed her displeasure quite aggressively.

“F**k the EU,” she said in the leaked call.

But it seems that the EU has learned the lesson, at least at the linguistic level. While Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said her Commission would be ‘geopolitical’ and EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell warned of a ‘return to power politics’ , the EU has already taken the first steps in the right direction.

Berlin still has to go down this road and readapt to the new realities.

This time around, Germany seems to be the main source of dissatisfaction in the alliance. Who knows what curses US officials are speaking behind closed doors for reference to Germany’s role in the ongoing conflict.


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The roundup

The spread of child pornography has exploded during the pandemic, NGOs warned on Safer Internet Day (February 8), urging the European Commission to present its initiative to counter the phenomenon after months of unexplained delays.

Regarding progress on diversity and inclusion (D&I) both on and off screen, MEP Evin Incir told EURACTIV that the EU still has a long way to go before his words, contained in a number of strategies and action plans, do not turn into action. .

A draft review of the EU pesticide framework, obtained by EURACTIV, outlines multi-pronged plans to address Integrated Pest Management (IPM) shortcomings, but campaign groups say these still fall short what is needed to transform the sector.

Speaking to European lawmakers on Monday, European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde reacted to criticism from conservative politicians who blamed ECB policy for inflation currently weighing on purchasing power of Europeans.

As EU legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence will be proposed by the European Commission in February, a cross-industry coalition of European businesses has called on it to adopt a risk-based approach and to apply to all companies operating in Europe.

France and Germany will work on “joint industrial projects” such as power grids, batteries and hydrogen, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said after receiving his German counterpart Robert Habeck in Paris on Monday. .

In an interview with EURACTIV, Professor Kalypso Nicolaïdis said that at the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), stakeholders did their best, but to make it a permanent exercise within the EU, there must be room for constructive criticism.

The European Commission’s proposed regulation to cut methane emissions should be tougher on imported fossil fuels and tackle greenhouse gas emissions beyond Europe, according to lawmakers drafting the Parliament’s position on the proposal.

Three candidates for the French presidential election carried out a vast seduction operation this weekend aimed at the working class, the most numerous but the least mobilized at the polls. EURACTIV France reports.

Pay attention to…

  • Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides in Lyon: participates in the Joint Ministerial Conference of Foreign Affairs and Health Ministers on the development of a European health policy, organized by the French Presidency of the Council of the EU.
  • Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations Maroš Šefčovič delivers an opening speech on the second day of the European Industry Days 2022.
  • Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, meets Dunja Mitajović, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

The views are those of the author.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic / Alice Taylor]

About Norma Wade

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