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HAS THE EUROPEAN UNION SOLVED THE GERMAN QUESTION?

Handout Group 2E-6

Introduction
The German Question has its roots in the middle of the 19th century, when debates hen debates
emerged after the Revolutions of 1848 about the best way to achieve the unification of Germany, as
the Pan-Germanist wished.

At the end of WW2, the question was still remaining: what to do with defeated Germany?
Fist, the allies, split the territory into four occupations zones, then in 1949 divided it in two states:
West and East Germany. This long period made the German question re-emerge (as nobody knew
what to do with the country) at the same time the European Union was created. This context strongly
influenced the country and helped the destroyed state to recover on all fronts. Thus, the question we
will be discussing today is Has the European Union solved the German Question?.

I. The German economic question

As Europe was at a downpoint, Economic recovery was the nation-states goal at the end of WW2. The
USA took the full mantle of World Leader and thus set as a goal the stabilization of Europes
economy.
The US did identify the need for interdependence among nations in Europe (even more between
France and Germany) to cure the crisis. This led the officials to consider the strategy of economic
European integration as the best way to promote long-term stability on the continent. The US, by
introducing the successful Marshall Plan, offered the possibility to any state who wanted, to
participate. Also, it focused especially on Germanys recovery, which it saw as determining factor for
Europes recovery.

As is Hogans point of view, the German problem was partly solved by its integration into
a European Economic Unity, aided by the Marshall Plan. It seems possible that, in fact,
the Marshall Plan was the beginning of a new continental order, the first steps
towards a European Union.

With the Schuman Declaration in 1950, France initiated the process of the ECSC formation and an
inclusion of German in an economic structure. The Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957. These events
have paved the way to the EU but also to German recovery and growth. (Until 1989, only West
Germany): it became one of the big power players on a continental scale and eventually also on a global
scale.

II. Political evolution of Germany within the EU


Different political institutions and processes leading up to the European Union have helped solving the
German question. In the aftermath of WW2, the return of a powerful Germany was feared. Robert
Schuman was one of the few who supported the idea of integrating Germany in political processes
instead of seeing the country as the enemy. Consequently, Germany was integrated successfully in the
ECSC, signed the Treaty of Rome and gained step by step the trust of its neighbours.
However, it has faced some difficulties
- The European Defence Community failed because the French government feared the
rearmament of Germany
- The Fall of the Berlin Wall did generate fear among the british and the French, who were
scared that the unification of Germany would have brought back the Nazi-era ambitions, or in
a less catastrophic scenario, would have at least threatened their own power.

III. French-German partnership

Nevertheless, this didnt alter the love story between France and Germany. The two countries build
a close friendship that is still existent today. The Treaty of French-German partnership was signed at
the Elyse Palace in 1963. The first step towards this was made by Schuman who believed that
European Unity would lead to peace. The US also encouraged Franco-German relations.
The French and German statesman worked closely together to create a unified Europe. This strong will
for cooperation was a determining factor for both countries. Both have recovered efficiently from the
damaged occurred by the Second World War by raising themselves to the status of leaders of the
European Union.

Conclusion

The original German question which appeared in the post-war period has been solved: Germany now
fully plays the role of a European integrated and accepted nation-state that has successfully recovered
from its catastrophic situation, essentially thanks to American and French support. However,
numerous reports have been made about the recent emergence of a new German question, which
would ironically have been introduced by the European Union itself. Germany, in most opinions, is
nowadays the most leading power within the EU. By not being hit hard by the Eurozone crisis from
2008, by initiating successful policies, it has gained in influence and stability worldwide. The question
that raises from this status takes therefore a geo-economic form, about how to balance effectively the
power of Germany in the Eurozone in the 21st century.