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Germany under pressure in Europe

The parliamentary elections in September 2021 also produced a mixed majority of Greens, Socialists and Liberals.

The Germans’ unique civic spirit immediately gave the government coalition a surprising stability.

It is true that German leaders face considerable challenges. They are economic, diplomatic and also political.

Past bad economic choices will be paid for dearly. The brutal rejection of nuclear energy, the assumed dependence on Russian gas despite friendly warnings, the solitary preference for distant exports, will lead this winter to cuts and rationing, bottlenecks, and shortages.

Green ministers are reopening coal-fired power stations and car manufacturers in Brussels are resisting electric cars. The finance minister, a champion of an old-fashioned liberal approach and contrary to his government's coalition treaty, is once again advocating austerity as growth falters...

A certain unflappable mercantilism is no longer possible in the EU's largest economy, which is now facing major strategic challenges.

From this point of view, Germany is largely unarmed. It has entrusted its security to NATO, its army to its Parliament, and its equipment to its industrialists - to the point that its Chancellor has announced a €100 billion equipment spending plan to make the Bundeswehr "the leading conventional army in Europe".

Besides the fact that this goal is questionable on several grounds, it is likely that it will not be achieved easily.

In passing, he has U-turned on the agreements made between Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to build the combat aircraft and tank of the future together on an equal footing, so as to lay the foundations of a European defence industry, a prerequisite for a real common defence.

Preferring to buy American, Germany does not choose the European way.

Already in the health crisis, its first reflex was to close its borders before changing its mind under French pressure. In the Ukrainian crisis, it initially refrained from taking any clear position, comforting itself in a stance as the "honest broker" as it did when Turkey threatened Greece with its behaviour and declarations.

For Germany, as for any other nation on the continent, there can only be an effective and strong response to the challenges of the moment through European cooperation.

It must therefore relearn solidarity and know how to put its short-term political interests behind a clear vision of Europe's future.

Together with France, it is accountable and responsible for this, because it is up to the larger countries, and especially these two, to set an example of integration that takes matters forward. The mark is far from being met despite all of the magnificent official declarations.

It is through deeds that solidarity must be proven - for its greatest benefit, but also for that of Europe.