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  • Author: Rudolf Furst
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The sub-regional multilateral format of China and 16 post-communist states (16+1) proved that it could last seven years and that it has the potential to absorb new members. Consequently, the European Union is increasingly concerned about its potentially divisive effects on the EU’s unity. The expected economic benefits of 16+1 for the European partners have been scarcely relevant; still, the European states exploit the 16+1 format for strengthening their bilateral agendas with China. Amidst the trade war with China, the US regards China’s rising influence in Central Europe as a political issue. Beijing’s priority in Europe is to calm down the tension with the EU, Germany, and France over the 16+1 platform. However, the accession of Greece to the enlarged format of 17+1 in the recent 16+1 summit in Dubrovnik and the gaining of support for the Belt and Road Initiative in Italy enable China to establish its foothold on the European South’s doorstep in connection with the 17+1 regional platform.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Economy, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, France, Germany
  • Author: Eileen Keller
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: This study analyses the joint efforts by France and Germany to bring about a comprehensive reform of the European currency union. These efforts culminated in the joint Meseberg Declaration adopted in June 2018. The article contextualises these efforts with respect to the reforms realised so far and the different reform options at hand. Besides questions of economic viability and institutional deficits, the article tackles issues of political feasibility. “From Meseberg to nowhere” was the prognosis given by Werner Mussler, economic correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Brussels. Commenting on the outlook for the joint declaration by the French President and German Chancellor on 19 June, following protracted negotiations at the German Government's official guest house at Schloss Meseberg, near Berlin, the journalist was critical of both the compromises it contained on strengthening the euro area and the chances of these ever being implemented. There is no question that the negotiations on the development of the euro area come at a difficult time. However, there are still good grounds for reaching a different conclusion. Both valid economic and political reasons can be found for the reforms proposed in the declaration, the details of which have yet to be developed. Anyone broaching the subject realistically knows that negotiations on economic and monetary union have always been challenging, due to differing concepts of economic policy and divergent economic needs and interests. At the same time, the two figures responsible for the Meseberg Declaration are both exceptional political personalities whom have shown in the past that they can cope with difficult negotiations, and can achieve remarkable results – on condition that Angela Merkel remains in office.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Economy, Negotiation, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, 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: Paul De Grauwe
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: One of the major problems of the eurozone is the divergence of the competitive positions that have built up since the early 2000s. This divergence has led to major imbalances in the eurozone where the countries that have seen their competitive positions deteriorate (mainly the so - called ' PIIGS ' – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain ) have accumulated large current account deficits and thus external indebtedness, matched by current account surpluses of the countries that have improved their competitive positions (mainly Germany).
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Once again the European Council will meet in an emergency session at the end of June, with the eurozone economy in recession and actually plummeting in its Southern periphery. Further doubts are also growing on the sustainability of sovereign debts due to the vicious spiral of deteriorating bank balance sheets, ballooning potential liabilities from banking rescues and widening spreads on government borrowings. The sovereign debt crisis in the periphery has now turned into a fully fledged banking crisis that threatens to spread from Greece to Spain and tomorrow, who knows, to Italy, France and even Germany itself.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, France, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Stefano Micossi, Fabrizia Peirce, Jacopo Carmassi
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: In recent weeks pressures on the euro and eurozone sovereign debtors have subsided. Buoyant growth in the global economy, increasingly benefiting also the European economy, has of course played an important role in calming financial markets. But even more important has been the perception that France and Germany are again working constructively for a strong economic Europe. More broadly, the acute turbulence in financial markets since the spring of 2010 may have finally convinced our political leaders, notably including the German political establishment, that the benefits of a stable currency far outweigh the costs that may have to be borne to make it work properly. The euro will only be trusted if the member states effectively coordinate their economic policies not only to ensure fiscal stability, but also to eliminate persistent divergences in productivity leading to unsustainable imbalances between national savings and investment (Schäuble, 2011).
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Some eighteen months after the first Greek rescue (May 2010), there is little doubt that the multiple attempts at crisis management in the eurozone have failed to restore confidence. Indeed, following each round of emergency measures agreed by the eurozone summits, matters have turned for the worse (see Figure 1 for the widening spreads, over the German Bund, for sovereign borrowing in the eurozone). At the time of writing, contagion has spread beyond Spain and Italy to the core sovereigns, with France close to losing its triple A rating and even Germany experiencing partial failure in a Bund auction on November 23rd. Spreads are also opening up for Austria, Belgium, Finland and even the virtuous Netherlands. Meanwhile, the banking system Europe- wide is under increasing strain, with term funding all but closed for any bank with significant exposure to distressed sovereign debtors and the interbank market close to seizing up. Deposit withdrawals have surfaced in a number of large banks from the periphery. The euro has started to weaken in foreign exchange markets, narrowing the room for a distinction between eurozone debt crisis and euro-currency crisis from which some observers were until recently drawing comfort.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Pertti Joenniemi
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In order to generate momentum, the European Commission has recently prepared a strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, this being the first of its kind with regard to the various European macro-regional formations. The strategy stands out as a goal-oriented and visionary document and clearly exceeds the scope of the Union's traditional policies vis-à-vis regional formations. But does it really stand for a strategy in the proper sense of the word in aspiring for a fresh start, choosing between different priorities and providing guidance in a programmatic manner for the Baltic Sea Region to gain the status of a 'model' and a forerunner among the various macro-regions in the EU? In probing the issue, the brief suggests a conditional 'yes'. It argues that there are many indications that the document should indeed be regarded a strategy. In addition to providing insight into the aspirations of the EU with regard to the Baltic Sea Region, the brief also argues that regionalization is enjoying increased legitimacy and standing in EU policies in general.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Germany
  • Author: Jan Neutze, Frances G. Burwell
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: During the second half of 2006 and in early 2007, the German economic engine seemed to gain speed, moving into recovery after several years of stagnation. Whether this recovery is sustainable is still unclear, however. With its reliance on exports, Germany remains vulnerable to any downturn in the global economy. Nor is it yet clear that the recent upswing will result in long term job growth and increased consumer spending. To reinforce this recovery, the chancellor should go beyond an economic policy based on balancing the budget and reducing corporate taxes. She should focus now on creating more flexible conditions of employment, so that more workers can be hired and companies can expand, and should work with German business to develop the successor industries to today's export champions. Her government must also rethink the failed policy of subsidizing the eastern Länder, and take steps to deal with the long term challenges of an aging workforce and an education system that does not produce workers with the right skills. Chancellor Merkel knows that coping with globalization will require a liberalized economy with more freedom and flexibility for its workers and its companies.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Germany