Jumping over its shadow: Germany and the future of European defence

European Defence Studies

Peace, Security & Defence

Picture of Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe

It’s high time for Germany to step out of the shadow of its past and take more responsibility for defending Europe and itself. In a world of Putin, Trump, Brexit and ISIS, Germans are slowly waking up to that idea, but the obstacles remain more political and psychological than financial or technical.

This Friends of Europe study, authored by Paul Taylor, Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe, POLITICO columnist and for many years Reuters EU Affairs editor, highlights the crucial position of Germany, the most powerful economy in Europe with the biggest potential to build a European defence union, along with France. Its publication is especially timely as Chancellor Angela Merkel begins coalition negotiations with the liberal-right Free Democrats and the anti-nuclear Greens, in which defence is likely to be a bone of contention.

Available in both English and German, this bilingual study is complemented by a Friends of Europe survey of almost 200 senior defence stakeholders in Germany and Europe which shows that: domestic security and Islamist terrorism are seen as the biggest threats, ahead of cybersecurity, irregular migration and military risks in eastern Europe; more respondents think the EU rather than NATO should be the main focus of extra German defence efforts; and the United States is no longer seen as Germany’s most important security partner.

The study’s five chapters include:

  • The bear and the shadow
  • ‘Partially ready to defend’
  • Shouldering arms? Germany’s armaments dilemmas
  • Fourth time lucky for EU defence?
  • Keep going, Germany!

The study complements a similar study on France’s role in European security and defence, published in April 2017.

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