After the election of French President Francois Hollande in May, it seemed thatviews of the EU’s foremost political duo could not be further apart.
Germany's diplomatic relations with the Americas are shaped by continuity, a clear focus on the US and by the dominant role played by Chancellor Angela Merkel. That leaves little room for the new foreign minister.
The threat of economic sanctions by the EU as a result of Russia's policy in the Crimea were received in the Kremlin seriously enough. After his visit to Berlin Ivan Grachev , Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Energy has expressed intentions of the United States to lift restrictions on export of liquefied natural gas to Europe and Ukraine.
Germany’s importance on the international scene has been steadily increasing as of late. The German Marshall Fund (GMF), together with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) recently published the report “New Power, New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World”. We discussed this report and Germany’s new role with Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Senior Transatlantic Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Berlin.
On February 5, Gazprom refloated the option of expanding the Nord Stream pipeline by adding a third and possibly a fourth line to the existing two. A third and a fourth line would reach beyond the Baltic Sea to countries on the North Sea. Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller discussed these options in Moscow with Matthias Warnig, CEO of the Gazprom-controlled Nord Stream consortium. These options have been aired, on and off, for the last two years (Vedomosti, February 6).
Invited yesterday to speak at a conference of the S&D Group in the European Parliament I raised the crucial question of the European Common Foreign and Defence Policy of the sharing of sovereignty.
The Ukrainian crisis is important in itself, but the behavior it has elicited from Germany is perhaps more important. Berlin directly challenged Ukraine's elected president for refusing to tighten relations with the European Union and for mistreating Ukrainians who protested his decision. In challenging President Viktor Yanukovich, Berlin also challenged Russia, a reflection of Germany's recent brazen foreign policy.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy kicked off the second day of the 50th Munich Security Conference. Steinmeier picked up the notion of the first day and urged Germany to make more specific security policy commitments.
The financial crisis has not only changed Europe, it has also influenced German Chancellor Merkel's alliance policies. Instead of focussing on Paris, Merkel is establishing a broad network of ties.
Does the German social welfare system contravene European law? The EU seems to think so. It has made a statement regarding the rights of migrants that has caused quite a stir in Germany.