Germany’s EU Power Struggle Post Brexit

Covid-19 cases have started to rise in Germany as the reported “second wave” has taken effect, according to data from the World Health Organization. This comess at a time when the Deutschland nation has taken the helm of the faltering EU in the hopes of steering it out of crippling debt and socio-poitical turmoil. Europe has been ablaze with riots and uprisings, mostly from its local populace who have begun to realize that it’s leaders may have sold their birthright. EU leaders are finding it difficult to convince its own populations, let alone Balkan nations and former Russian Block alies that betting on the Union is a safe bet, when many non-EU members have better GDP to debt ratios than most EU members and better energy resources than those in the EU–Germany included.

Europe has been ablaze with riots and uprisings, mostly from its local populace who have begun to realize that it’s leaders may have sold their birthright. 

Navigating the quagmire has been dicey. Particularly, given Germany’s own history. Despite it’s reputation for efficiency, Germany has not been a fan favorite in Europe. Its tit-for-tat war game tactics and resurgent xenophobia that it has struggled and failed to uproot since the Nazi Germany era continues to resurge and complicate its place in Europe.” According to the 2018 Leipzig Authoritarianism Study on authoritarian and far-right attitudes in Germany presented by Dr.Oliver Decker and Professor Elmar Brähler of the Competence Centre for Research into Right-Wing Extremism and Democracy at Leipzig University, xenophobia and islamophobia is on the rise. Even despite anti Racism protests in the summer, Germany’s researchers find that xenophobia is not only rising,  but becoming mainstream.   As the incoming leader of the EU, Germany chose a mobius symbol of unity in an attempt to galvanize the EU. While an ambitious aim nonetheless, Germany has never quite been able to play that role in Europe.

Even as other nations were locking down their populations to prevent spread of Covid-19 in spring 2020. Germany refused to follow suit. Its position in the EU was often balanced by the British ideological and socio-poitical influence. As Brexit nears finalization, a trade deal was reached at the end of December 2020 paving the way for a hasty UK exit. The UK has determined to see to its own affairs, managing even to move beyond the ham-fisted approach of EU leaders (undergirded by Germany) to levy a tit-for-tat style lawsuit against the Crown.

Even in earlier times when Italy fell, it was Germanic tribes that brought about its ultimate demise; and it was Germany’s Blitzkrieg that rolled through the UK crushing it from its former glory. Italy, Greece and other southern European nations that are sinking in debt, will be forced to reckon within a thinner, less politically agile EU. Germany has been a major part of many of the EUs military engagements over the years. “The Bundeswehr’s [Germany’s military] deployment numbers also illustrate this phenomenon: from 1991 to August 2017, a total of 408,932 German soldiers were in­volved in 52 mandated operations abroad. At the highest point over 10,000 German soldiers were simul­taneously deployed abroad.” According to a report by Germany Institute for International and Security Affairs “In late May 2018, it was less than half that number: Germany contributed just over 4,000 soldiers to a total of eleven missions – three NATO, three EU and four UN missions, and one so-called coalition of the willing.” The report concluded. Will there be more missions in Europe and the Balkans now?

“The Bundeswehr’s [Germany’s military] deployment numbers also illustrate this phenomenon: from 1991 to August 2017, a total of 408,932 German soldiers were in­volved in 52 mandated operations abroad.

The EU has stretched itself thin, under dwindling populations and skyrocketing debt to maintain the post-World War order. Engagements in Mali, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan (more recently), Syria, Western Sahara, Ukraine, Libya and others under the auspice of the United Nations and EU peace and anti-conflict operations continue to include Germany’s military. Ironically since Covid-19, Germany’s Defense spending has increased from an increase of 1.3 to 1.6 percent. Currently the nation spends. nearly 50 billion dollars on defense. These mostly or military operations abroad.

With the exit of the UK, and Germany at the helm of the EU, the question remains whether military engagements for EU will increase at the expense of its populations. According to the German Economy Ministry, arms sales rose by 65 percent in 2019 grossing nearly 9 billion dollars. Sending most of its arms into the UAE and Northern Africa where many find there way into Sub-Saharan states. EU states need financial inflows as it seeks to recapture it’s waning geopolitical influence. However, that influence may only lie with developing economies instead of those in Europe and the Balkans who see the soft white pregnable underbelly of an aging alliance with antiquated policies that do not adequately answer the reality of an emerging new dynamic.

It is curious to see how a nation whose cultural and historic underpinnings lean heavily independent, unilateral and exclusionary will be able to forge a new future of multilateral cooperation for the EU under a mobius symbol for which it has little commonality. Perhaps EU members must look ahead to forge better partnerships beyond the Union as the UK has done. A time for greater self-determination may be emerging in Europe as local populations chafe under old policies and conflict engagements abroad that garner less and less for what is lost. For survival, there may not be enough to go around in a Union forcing members to put its own livelihood and stability on the line. Only time will tell.

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