John Lavelle: I was born and currently live, during the summer, in New Jersey with my parents and twin sister. She and I also own a flat in St. Andrews, Scotland where we both live whilst attending classes at St. Andrews University. I am 19 years old and entering my second year at the University, where I study International Relations and Economics and am actively involved in Model UN, the Economics Society, and the Investment Society. I enjoy most sports and play golf for recreation and relaxation. I am also an avid history buff, specifically European history. My travels have taken me to the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and Spain. I have been to Germany only once, in the Fall of 2019, at which time I visited Hamburg, Bremen, and Hanover.
U.S. | June 27, 2020 | Student Essay
Germany has a prominent role in many organizations, such as NATO, the G7, and the UN. However, its most prominent role is in the European Union. Why does Germany have this role and how does Germany utilize its power and influence? I would argue that prominence is due to its location, economy, and soft power attributes.
Since the reign of Charlemagne, a German state has been at the core of European politics. The central reasons were population, location, and raw material. Germany is the most populous nation in Europe and the 2nd only to America in NATO. The people of Germany also have above average living conditions, as the GDP per capita is $52,556, which is over three hundred times the average per capita income of the world. The country is centrally located in Europe, and acts as a bridge between North and South, and East and West. This location cements the German government to develop firm alliances and enables it to negotiate advantageously, which is vitally important in Europe, where the slightest insult can cause great tension.
Then there are the bountiful raw materials that, as Europe’s third largest agricultural producer, provide easy access to food, such as wheat, potatoes, and cabbages, for itself and its less agriculturally productive neighbors and allies. Germany also enjoys vast amounts of lignite and potash, which are important for steam power and fertilizing, respectively.
Germany’s economy is also one of the strongest in the world. This has been evident since the turn of the century. Germany has bailed out many countries during the Eurozone Crisis, most notably, Greece. Germany saved many European economies by lending money at low interest rates, an economic strategy which has not only saved the union but has given Germany great influence and power over these nations. Germany is among the largest exporting nations and has the most vibrant industry amongst the G7. Germany’s many economic centers specialize in different sectors of the economy, making the economy resilient to single sector bubbles.
This strong and diverse economy has made Germany the most powerful nation in the European Union. The economy is also export oriented, which is rare in Europe, and has established the country as a good trade partner. This also compels other nations in Europe to rely more heavily upon Germany, giving it more power and influence in the EU and in European countries. Germany is also the backbone of the Euro. Its bond yields are the safest of all European countries, placing Germany among the very few world economies that has grown every year since the Great Recession. Because it has bailed out so many European countries, lending twenty-five percent of its GDP to other European nations, Germany has forced fiscal responsibility in Europe.
Finally, there is the soft power of Germany, the politics and culture. Although Germany is weaker in entertainment compared to France and Britain, the country has a strong unity within its society and a very stable government. Since Angela Merkel became Prime Minister, France has had four presidents and the United Kingdom has had five Prime Ministers. The German Parliaments also experience fewer changes during elections than do other European countries. Germany has been an active member on the world stage and is a good intermediary between opposing viewpoints, usually being the bridge of Europe, both geographically and diplomatically, by forcing or making agreements amongst European nations when issues rise. This can be seen with the Presda Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia, which Germany mediated. Then there is the German society, which has been more unified than other European nations in supporting its leader as well as the involvement in the EU; both have above a seventy percent approval of the population. Germany’s soft power is firmly melded through its stability, economy, democracy, and society.
In conclusion, Germany has the predominant role in the European Union. This role has been bestowed upon Germany due to its diverse and strong economy, large population, and physical size, as well as stable politics and government. Germany will continue to be the leader of the EU for the foreseeable future, even though Angela Merkel is set to step down in the next few years. The power Germany holds, both in Europe and throughout the world will not soon diminish.
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