Monday, February 16, 2004
Nearly Normal Germany

An analysis of German power in the International Herald Tribune argues that the midget of Mitteleuropa has begun to assert its interest in a European context. Gunther Hellmann, a political scientist from the Goethe Universitat at Frankfurt, understands that the 'normalisation' of German power is accompanied by long-term developments that accentuate weaknesses witnessed by its partners.

Germany is pushing its interests through the European institutions since it lacks the confidence to wax its economic or diplomatic muscles outside these forums. Its military forces have atrophied and it has fallen behind its French and British rivals. In order to mintain or increase its influence, Germany has to increase its influence in Europe and ensure that the Constitution is ratified. There is support for thsi argument in the short-term but even the Germans must understand that they cannot dominate the European Union.

This sets the context in which the "Three Pygmies" meet this week, as large carp in a small pond, since they underestimate the world passing them by. Their latest project is a reorganisation of the European Commission to prevent any further directives that increase regulation and decrease the competitiveness of their economies. This would involve a hierarchy of Commissioners with the 'Big Three' playing the flute whilst the smaller countries played musical chairs.

Therefore, economic deregulation is linked to not-so-great power dominance within Europe leading to opposition from the pygmies even if they naturally fall into the former camp (New Europe par example?). Germany's ambitions are proving problematic for the European Union and impose additional strains on a structure that is already impervious to reform.

When three leaders discuss reforms that will prove unequal to their ambitions, an outcome that is clear to almost everyone else, then one knows that the clock is ticking for the regime change that will dislodge the entrenched barriers to change.

(22.47, 16th February 2004)


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