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«Sebastian Kurpas and Henning Riecke The 2007 German EU Presidency: A Midterm Report Sebastian Kurpas and Henning Riecke The 2007 German EU ...»

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Sebastian Kurpas and Henning Riecke

The 2007

German EU Presidency:

A Midterm Report

Sebastian Kurpas and Henning Riecke

The 2007

German EU Presidency:

A Midterm Report

– SIEPS 2007:1op –

SIEPS 2007:1op


Publisher: Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies

The report is available at


The opinions expressed in this report are

those of the authors and are not necessarily

shared by SIEPS.

Cover: Svensk Information AB Print: EO Grafiska AB Stockholm, May 2007 ISSN 1651-8071 ISBN 91-85129-69-0


The Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, SIEPS, conducts and promotes research and analysis of European policy issues within the disciplines of political science, law and economics. SIEPS strives to act as a link between the academic world and policy-makers at various levels.

This occasional paper is devoted to analysing the German Presidency of the European Union. SIEPS bi-annually publishes a report on the incumbent Presidency, focusing on the agenda, the domestic factors and the country’s specific relation to European integration.

Stockholm, May 2007 Jörgen Hettne Acting Director SIEPS


Sebastian Kurpas has been a Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels since 2003. His research focus lies on EU institutional issues, treaty reform and European media. In 2002/03 he worked in the press service of the European Commission. He has studied law and political science in Freiburg, Germany, and Grenoble, France.

Kurpas holds a law degree from the University of Freiburg and a Master of European Public Administration from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. In March 2007 Kurpas has submitted his doctoral thesis in political science at the University of Tübingen on the press coverage about the European Constitutional Convention.

Henning Riecke is head of the program on “European Foreign and Security Policy” at the German Council on Foreign relations in Berlin. His core task is the organization of the Council’s regular study groups. Riecke does research on European security organizations, such as NATO and ESDP German foreign and defense policy and WMD non-proliferation. He is a member of the research institute’s managing board, being speaker of the internal DGAP working group on publication strategy. In 2000, Riecke was Thyssen Post-Doc Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. Between 1994 and 1999, he was Research Assistant at the Center for Transatlantic Foreign and Security Policy Studies.

Riecke holds Political Science Doctorate and a Diploma from the Free University of Berlin. He has studied political science, political economy and history in Frankfurt/Main and Berlin.


Rarely has an EU Presidency been anticipated with expectations as high as theGerman one in 2007. By the end of its six-month term, it is supposed to have tabled a roadmap for a way out of the Union’s constitutional crisis and have brought fresh impetus to key policy areas. This Midterm Report starts with a general part explaining German motivation for European integration and developments since unification, public opinion on European integration and the positions of important political players in Germany.

It also gives a detailed insight into the organisational structures of the Presidency. In its main part the report provides a comprehensive overview of the German Presidency’s aims in the various policy areas and makes a preliminary assessment of the achievements at the beginning of May 2007.

The report comes to a rather positive conclusion on internal policies due to many concrete measures, for example on the single market or justice and home affairs. The most visible success was the merging of climate protection and energy policy to a new policy paradigm. The EU achieved this through the agreement on an “Energy Policy for Europe” (EPE) and unilateral commitment of EU leaders to binding targets on CO2-reduction during the Spring summit. With the “Berlin Declaration” Germany managed to make leaders demonstrate unity on the future of the Union and to provide a good start for the talks on the roadmap for treaty reform.

Prospects for an agreement in June are positive, but might come at the price of accepting a low common denominator.

In foreign policy, results have so far been less tangible than on internal policies. Germany’s engagement helped along to deepen the economic partnership with the United States, but could not avoid a deterioration of the EU-Russia relations due to factors beyond the Presidency’s control.

Also in Kosovo and the Middle East, substantial settlements are still far away. The EU is however preparing for an ambitious operation in Kosovo and Germany helped to engage the Middle East Quartet with the peace process, thus putting the conflict higher on the international agenda. In May 2007 the German EU Council Presidency is still anxious to calm down expectations. It might well be, however, that the pragmatic German step-by-step approach will lead to better results than a sober look at the initial conditions would have suggested.



2.1 German motivation for European integration

2.2 Developments since reunification

2.3 Public opinion

2.4 Positions of different political players on the EU

2.5 Organisation of the German Presidency


3.1 Economic policy and the Internal Market

3.2 Energy and Climate Change

3.3 Justice and Home Affairs

3.4 Roadmap for the constitutional process

3.5 Relations between the EU and the United States of America.............35

3.6 Relations with the East

3.7 The status of Kosovo and stability in the Western Balkans...............50

3.8 Conflicts in the Middle East






Already in the run-up to its six-month-term, the German EU Presidency was confronted with high expectations. Angela Merkel’s European debut during the 2006 budget negotiations was widely seen as a success, since she contributed actively to finding a compromise between strongly opposed national positions. Since then, many observers have looked to Germany as a provider of fresh political leadership for the EU. However,

expectations are also high due to a lack of alternatives in the last year:

In the UK, Tony Blair is at the end of his tenure and will hand over power to Gordon Brown, who is reputedly not an EU-enthusiast. In France, President Jacques Chirac has left the political stage with a very mixed record on Europe and the “no-vote” to the Constitutional Treaty has further diminished French influence. The new President Nicholas Sarkozy gives rise to fresh hopes for leadership. However, he did not hesitate to attack the EU on central issues during the election campaign, such as the mandate of the European Central Bank, trade, or Turkish EU-membership.

Finally Italy, the fourth largest Member State, does have a very proEuropean Government, but domestic quarrels and uncertain majorities have so far hindered Prime Minister (and former Commission President) Romano Prodi to provide leadership at the European level.

In many ways the high expectations on the German Presidency as a “saviour of Europe” appear exaggerated, especially in view of its limited duration. The German Government is well aware of its limitations and has already tried to tone down expectations.1 Much of a Presidency’s agenda is usually inherited from its predecessors or dictated by the legislative process running its usual course. Also, Presidencies of large member states are not necessarily always the most successful ones. The expected role of an “honest broker” is sometimes hindered by the particularly strong interests of large countries. Finally, unforeseen events on the international stage can suddenly dominate the agenda and absorb much of the Presidency’s administrative resources and political attention. During its last Presidency in 1999, Germany even had to deal with two such crises: the resignation of the Santer Commission and the Kosovo War.

See for example: “A preview of Germany’s EU Presidency: The Status of the Federal Government’s Preparations”, Speech by State Secretary Reinhard Silberberg, 4.10.2006, at http://www.germany.info/relaunch/politics/speeches/101106.html Naturally this does not necessarily mean that a Presidency cannot make significant progress on certain issues. In 1999 Germany managed to secure an agreement on the EU’s budgetary perspective for the period 2000–2006, the so-called “Agenda 2000”, after very difficult negotiations.2 This time the greatest challenge will certainly be finding an agreement on the way forward for the European Constitutional Treaty. This uncertain prospect looms large over the entire Presidency and the German Government has been eager to put other policy areas in the spotlight during the first half of its term. It successfully avoided the Constitutional Treaty becoming a central issue in the French presidential campaign and also does not want to be measured solely on progress made on the constitutional issue in case things go wrong.

It might be considered fortunate that besides the roadmap for the Constitution, no tricky negotiations or contentious projects need to be finalized during the German Presidency, such as the financial perspective during the British tenure. Despite the limits by every six-month Presidency, this particular situation opens up opportunities to launch initiatives and initiate political developments that will help to avoid the impression of political paralysis.

This “Midterm Report” will first in a more general section present Germany’s role within the European Union and explain the country’s traditional and present political aims. It will describe the positions of important political actors and developments of public opinion. The decision-making structures of German EU policy in general and the Presidency in particular will also be explained. In the second section the authors will then analyse the Presidency programme including the achievements in the main policy areas to date. The report will thus give a preliminary assessment of the German EU Presidency halfway through its mandate and will provide an outlook of the challenges lying ahead.

The possibility of having to negotiate the budgetary perspective again in the Presidency seat during the second half of 2006, made the German Government exchange its period with the Finnish one. As the biggest net-payer Germany did not want to be restricted by the Presidency’s role of an “honest broker”.


2.1 German motivation for European integration Germany’s traditional motivation for European integration has been the establishment and promotion of good relations with its Western neighbours. After the Second World War integration offered (West) Germany the perspective of again becoming a respected member of the international community. As opposed to France or later Britain, European integration was not just a tool to serve the national interest when appropriate, but integration as such was Germany’s national interest. At the same time German Governments tried to keep a balance between European integration on the one side and a strong transatlantic link on the other. Unlike in France, a strong and united Europe was not seen as a counterweight, but as an indispensable complement to the United States. After all, the US remained the guarantee power for West Germany against the communist threat throughout the Cold War. However unlike Britain, Germany did not see a good relationship with the United States as an alternative to deeper European integration. Both aspects were important building blocks for the policy of West Germany’s first post-war Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who successfully integrated the country firmly into the community of Western democracies (so-called “Westbindung”).

With the establishment of the common market through the treaties of Rome, economic motivations for European integration became increasingly important: Besides political stability, the European Community now also offered an important market for the country’s booming export industry.

Today the majority of Germany’s exports go to EU countries.

German support for European integration was, however, never exclusively utilitarian: the political class in particular also showed strong emotional support for Europe. In post-war West Germany the prospect of a common European community was seen as a means to overcome the nationalist past and few people openly demonstrated pride in the mere fact of being German. Instead they were proud of Germany’s economic performance during the 1950s and 60s, the so-called “economic miracle” (“Wirtschaftswunder”) and the strong Deutschmark as the symbol of this success.

People also identified with the stable democracy based on the country’s Constitution (the “Grundgesetz”), which even led to the expression “Verfassungspatriotismus” (constitutional patriotism). Germans saw the embedding of their country´s unification into the development of a Political Union in Europe as a logical extension of post-war foreign policy and an appropriate reflection of the FRG’s strategic culture. They easily accepted the idea to soothe the neighbours’ apprehensions about the new heavyweight in Europe through multilateralism and integration. It is only in recent years that the identification with the nation-state has become stronger and more emotional, so that some observers talk about a “normalisation” of Germany in this respect.3

2.2 Developments since reunification During the last years a certain change of German EU and foreign policy can be observed. Indeed both cornerstones – further EU integration and

the strong transatlantic link – have been put to the test:

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