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  • Author: Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Tensions in the transatlantic partnership are spurring the German debate on how to prepare for the possibility of a post-Atlantic Europe. Germany has renewed its focus on the EU’s security and defence policy. This includes long-term initiatives to improve European operational readiness, as well as recognition of the EU mutual assistance clause in the doctrine of the German armed forces. However, efforts by German politicians to convince the public of the need for a greater international engagement face difficulties as Germans see the threat as negligible and eye the military with suspicion. The challenge for Berlin remains to step up the ambition for European defence cooperation, while avoiding new fault lines among EU members.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Timo Behr, Tuomas Iso-Markku
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The outcome of the German federal elections on September 22nd will have a significant impact on the management of the on-going eurozone crisis and set the tone for the future course of European integration. Although the EU and the euro are largely absent from current electoral debates, significant differences on these issues exist both inside and between German political parties in the run-up to the September polls. However, in the absence of significant debate, fundamental decisions over the future of EU integration will be postponed until after the election, when a cross-party compromise appears more feasible. Regardless of the election outcome, the next German government is likely to prove more conciliatory on austerity policies in Europe and will boost domestic spending, but will retain some red lines on further EU integration. While the rhetoric and the pace of change might differ significantly depending on the shape that the next coalition government takes, German eurozone policies will continue to trade fiscal solidarity for structural reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Policymakers, observers and the media have referred to a vast number of divisions in crisis-torn Europe. The EU is divided between north and south or creditors and debtors. Some have emphasised the emerged division between anti-EU and pro- EU forces. Significantly, these divisions are also manifested within the eurozone, in the form of the current differences between the French and German views, and the increasing role of the populist movements in many euro countries. Yet others have highlighted the boundary between the eurozone and the rest of the EU, and suggested that the euro countries now form the core of the Union. Relatedly, some of the non-euro members are distancing themselves from the EU – most notably the UK – while many others aim to secure their influence in the Union, even if euro membership may have been put on the back burner.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Timo Behr, Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Germany's ambiguous role during the eurozone crisis has stoked fears that a more self-confident and dynamic Germany is threatening the political independence and economic well-being of its neighbours and will lead to a “German Europe”. German weakness, not power, is the main challenge to EU integration. In order to build a supranational EU and a “European Germany”, Germans will have to overhaul their Cold War institutions and traditions that have become a brake on EU integration. Germany's political elite continues to favour a federalist vision for the EU, but faces a somewhat more sceptical public as well as strong domestic veto players, such as the Federal Constitutional Court, which limit their pro-integrationist tendency. While Germany continues to support the use of the “Community method”, Angela Merkel has increasingly resorted to the “Union method” that places function over form and prioritizes pragmatic problem-solving to address the current crisis. Germany's uncompromising attitude towards the eurozone crisis and its sometimes erratic foreign policy are the product of its deeply embedded stability culture and instinctive pacifism, rather than a sign of growing global ambitions. European partners will have to help Germany in its indispensable leadership role by jointly formulating a vision for the European integration project and by assisting Germany in adapting its political institutions and culture.
  • Topic: Cold War, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The return of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president and the probable end of Dmitri Medvedev's modernization project will increase the alienation within German-Russian relations. Germany's modernization partnership with Russia has produced limited results because the two sides have different views on the cooperation. While the German side wants to develop common projects of good practice which will modernize the Russian economy and politics, the Russian side is interested in technology transfer. The interest in and knowledge of Russia among German decision-makers is decreasing. Germany lacks vision and concepts on how to influence developments in Russia. This is also due to the resistance of the current Russian elite towards implementing political reforms. As a result, Russia is losing its most important advocate in the EU (also regarding energy policy). This will have a negative impact on EU-Russia relations because the EU lacks leadership on Russia. Ongoing changes in Russian society, which challenge the Putin system, will present an opportunity to find new allies in Russia for cooperation and modernization, which may increase Germany's interest in its large neighbour. But this will call for a more balanced approach between the Russian elites and society in Germany's Russia policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Social Stratification, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Minna-Mari Salminen
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Irrespective of the German election result, the “special relationship” between Germany and Russia will continue to thrive. The global economic crisis has served to forge even closer business ties between Germany and Russia. Several struggling German industries would now welcome Russian investment, and all in all German companies are expected to stay in the Russian market in anticipation of growth. Germany is likely to concentrate on economic relations with Russia, which have proved lucrative, and to confine criticism of Russian domestic affairs to rhetoric. Even if the German general foreign policy line becomes more Atlanticist than before, Germany's Russia policy will not lose its significance.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Germany
  • Author: Timo Behr, Matthieu Chillaud, Toby Archer, Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Valtteri Vuorisalo, Barbara Zanchetta
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The increase in fighting in the summer of 2009 has led to renewed debate in many of the countries contributing troops to the international mission in Afghanistan. In the UK the heavy loss of life amongst British soldiers has been central to the discussion on Britain's continued contribution. In Germany the debate has more focused on the increasingly offensive actions that the Bundeswehr is undertaking. France's contribution to the Afghanistan mission is less politically controversial than in other European countries because of the president's power over foreign and security policy. For many years Italy's Afghanistan contribution was less politically sensitive compared to the Italian presence in Iraq, but this is changing with the increase in violence in Afghanistan. In Sweden the annual parliamentary approval process and the increased expeditionary focus of the armed forces have lead to a strong consensus on the need to participate in Afghanistan. The debate in Finland is sporadic and reactive as there is not an annual parliamentary debate as is the case in Sweden and Germany. Nevertheless Finland's contribution is centrally linked to the decision made in those countries.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Britain, Afghanistan, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden
  • Author: Timo Behr
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The German elections provided a clear mandate for current Chancellor Angela Merkel to form a new coalition government between her Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Liberals (FDP), led by Guido Westerwelle. Coalition talks between the two parties have started and are likely to be concluded by early November. The big winners of the elections have been the Liberals (+4.8%), as well as Germany's two other mid-sized parties, the Greens (+2.6%) and die Linke (+3.2%). The biggest loser of the elections were the Social Democrats (SPD) (-11.2%), who return to opposition after 11 years in government. Despite Angela Merkel's popularity, the electoral standing of the CDU has also deteriorated (-1.4%).Overall, the elections represent a clear shift in the political spectrum from left to right. They also indicate a further weakening of Germany's two “catch-all” parties, CDU and SPD, and will lead to a more fluid and less predictable party system. As the clear winners the Liberals are in a strong position to shape the agenda of the new government, especially when it comes to tax cuts and structural reforms. But it would be wrong to see the elections as a vote in favour of radical change. Rather, they were a vote against the unpopular grand coalition government. As a result, some friction between FDP and CDU might be unavoidable. In the short-run the domestic agenda will also be constrained by next year's elections in North-Rhine Westphalia; important because of their impact on the government's majority in the Bundesrat, Germany's upper chamber. At home, the new government will face a difficult trade-off between the campaign promises of windfall tax cuts and the pressing need of budget consolidation. Differences also remain over health care reforms and labour market policies, while there is a consensus on extending nuclear energy and corporate tax reforms. Broad, there will be few changes as Angela Merkel will dominate her inexperienced new foreign minister on all important foreign policy issues. As before, Germany will seek close ties with the US, but will only reluctantly grow into the role of a more “normal” international actor. In the EU, the new government will seek to play a constructive role, but is unlikely to be the source of new ideas and initiatives.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany