Event Reports

Global and Regional Challenges for the EU: German strategies after its election

Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation & Scottish Centre on European Relations

On 28th November, the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation co-hosted a public panel discussion on the future of Germany and the European Union.

On 28th November, the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation teamed up with the Scottish Centre on European Relations and the Edinbrugh University’s Europainstitute to host a public panel discussion titled “Germany and the EU27 – where next?” at the University of Edinburgh.

The public event followed an expert roundtable workshop with participants from the United Kingdom and Germany about the EU’s global and neighborhood challenges and Scottish and German cooperation after Brexit.

Quentin Peel, associate fellow with the Europe Programme at Chatham House and former Financial Times correspondent in Brussels, Moscow, Berlin, and Southern Africa, pointed out that 2016 was an annus horribilis for Germany because both pillars of German foreign politics have since been under pressure: Brexit is still questioning the European integration project and the election of U.S. president Donald J. Trump is challenging transatlantic cooperation. He suggested that German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces crucial challenges within Europe but might have been significantly weakened by the recent collapse of the coalition talks.

The United Kingdom should better not rely on Germany to sort all things out, Stefanie Bolzen who is the UK correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, reminded. Germany’s role in the Brexit negotiations is notably overestimated since it is the European Commission to negotiate the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. The remaining EU27 have made clear that they are united and fully support Michel Barnier in his negotiations.

Dr Philipp Murmann, federal treasurer and board member of Angela Merkel’s CDU, underlined that Germany’s politics on Europe have always been carried by a substantial parliamentary majority across political parties. It is therefore unlikely that Germany’s EU approach is about to change with regard to the upcoming coalition talks, Dr Murmann reflected.

The European Union has a lot to do to adapt to the future but you should not write it off, Elmar Brok who is the longest serving Member of the European Parliament and Brexit expert in the EPP made clear. The European Union is a success considering economic growth and democratic stability. However, Mr Brok also pointed out that the strongest soft power is weak if it doesn’t have the strongest hard power as well. The EU must stick together in order to avoid being the forgotten region in twenty years’ time, he concluded.