Research Papers

The Role of Germany in the EU Research Paper

Germany is officially known as the Federal Republic of Germany or Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The country was formed in 1871 when Otto von Bismarck consolidated the kingdom by bringing together all the kingdoms, free cities, and principalities of German-speaking people. The kingdom expanded conquering neighboring people and countries and enslaving others in regions like Asia and Africa. However, after the First World War and the subsequent civil war, Germany’s economy collapsed, leading to a high rate of unemployment (Fichtner, 2017). Many Germans suffered in these days and were in dire need of help and change. This created an opportunity for the rise of the Nazi army and the country’s greatest dictator Adolf Hitler. His quest to conquer Europe, eliminate Jews and homosexuals among other minorities resulted in the Second World War (Efroni, 2008). The war ended badly for the country leaving many people jobless, industries destroyed, agriculture failing, millions of people dead among other effects. After the war, the country was divided into west and East Germany marking the beginning of the cold war. The Berlin war was built to separate the east and the west. However, the collapse of the war marked the end of the division, presenting new dawn to the country.

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Today the country is located in central and western parts of Europe I between Baltic and north sees in the northern side and Alps in the southern side. The total land area of modern Germany is 357,386 km² with a boundary of 6,010 km of which 2,389km is coastline. Based on the 2011 census, the total population was around 80.2 million people although 2017 estimates the population to be 82.79 million people making it the most populous country in the European Union. In Europe, it is the second most populated country after Russia and the 16th most populated country globally. In this paper, the focus will be on the influence of Germany in the European Union. Emphasis will be on Germany economy, its contributions to the European Union since its formation, the creation of article 13/17 and how Germany influenced it and the country’s unfair use of laws, especially on online platforms.

Economy wise, Germany has the largest GDP in accounting for about 28% of the euro area economy. The total GDP as per 2018 was $4.029 trillion which is the fourth in the world behind the USA, China, and Japan. When it comes to PPP, the country was ranked 5th with $4.379 trillion behind China, USA, India, and Japan. This shows that Germany is a powerful country that can influence policies in the European Union. When it comes to exports, the country is the third largest exporter in the world (Fichtner, 2017). The country exports mainly vehicles, machines, and electronics. The car industry is among the best in the world especially on their great skills in innovating new designs as compared to other leading designers like Japan and the United States of America.

Germany Labour force is also very skilled, with the majority of the people having graduated from leading technological institutions in the region. In terms of corruption, the country is one of the least corrupt countries in the EU. Due to the high number of production companies, Germany can create employment opportunities for its people with estimates showing rates as low as 4 % with a surprise I the youth unemployment which stands at only 7% (Fichtner, 2017). Due to the economic influence of Germany, the country receives great respect in the European Union. The amounts the country contributes to the union is also much more as compared to other members. Above that, the country’s high production and exporting power allows it to trade large volumes of goods within the union (Busch, Theiner and Busch, 2018). If the country’s economy sufferers; therefore, the ripple effects are felt in the entire union. As a result, the country has been bossing around other countries, failing to comply with several laws and regulations with o fear for punishment and calls for action owing to its power and greatness.

Formation of EU and Other Unions in Europe
One of the earliest Unions in Europe that Germany is part of is NATO which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The union was formed immediately after the end of the Second World War in the year 1949 when the founding countries sighed the North Atlantic treaty (Sokolsky, 2017). The founding countries were 12, but other countries like Germany joined later with the current number standing at 29 member states whereby two countries that is Canada and United States are from North America, 26 are from Europe, and the last one is Turkey from the Middle East (Sokolsky, 2017). The main aim of the union was to protect its member states against any military attack by another country. Article five of the union shows that in the event one of the member states is attacked, the other countries will assist the affected country with armed forces where necessary. The union has been staying strong with the United States being the main financier. Germany has also been supporting the union, but it has received criticism from the president of USA Donald Trump for failing to contribute money based on their economic power as the US does (Sokolsky, 2017).

European Economic Community in 1957
The next union that Germany was a member of is the European Economic Community which was formed in 1957 and formally absorbed in the EU in 2010 thus ceasing to exist. (Abiteboul and Stoyanovich, 2019). The organization aimed to boost the economy of the member states through the creation of common markets, currency and customs unions. As a result, the union boosted trade among the founding countries through the establishment of industries and trade unions. With the establishment of the EU in 1993, the community did not last as most of its ideals were included in the EU frameworks. Germany was among the first six countries which founded the union.

The Role of Germany in the EU
The EU among the best economic, trade and political unions in the world. The union was formed in 1993, and as per today, it consists of 28 member countries mainly from Europe. Germany is the most powerful country in the union in terms of military, political and economic powers. Other powerful members include France, Italy, Spain, and Britain among others. The total land size of the union is about 4,475,757 km2 with a population estimate of about 513 million as per 2017 (Shen, 2017). The union has been able to establish a single internal market with the majority of the member countries using the euro currency. Recently, the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the union in what is famously known as Brexit, but the process is yet to finalize (Fichtner, 2017). In terms of GDP, the total combined figures as per 2017 estimates stood at about $21 trillion which was the highest in the world. When it comes to the net worth, the union is second to the USA. The US has US$98.2 trillion while the EU has US$78 trillion, representing 25 % of the total global net worth of US$317 trillion (Fichtner, 2017).

The Eurozone is a union within the European Union, whose official name is euro area. The union consists of 19 member states, of the total 28 in the EU. It was formed in 1998 when 11 countries including Germany decided to form a union that would replace their national currencies with the Euro (Busch, Theiner and Busch, 2018). One year after its formation, Greece joined the union. In 2002, the union made the first coins and notes that they have bee using up to date. Other countries have been joining the union with seven countries joining between 2007 and 2015. Apart from using the Euro as their currency, they also use it as their sole legal tender (Busch, Theiner and Busch, 2018). Germany’s economy is equivalent to 28% of the total Eurozone, thus showing its power and ability to influence its decisions. Other unions and organizations that Germany is part of include G7, OECD, United Nations, and the G20 (Abiteboul and Stoyanovich, 2019).

German Contributions to the EU
Historically, Germany has been an influential nation in Europe. Even before the First World War began, the country was very powerful, most probably behind France and Britain. During the Second World War, the country had developed into a powerhouse with great military equipment, great technologies, and innovations that influenced greatly the European countries and their war of life. With the end of the cold war, Germany united and became an even more powerful country (Busch, Theiner and Busch, 2018). With the high innovation rates and great production of manufactured goods, Germany has continued dominating over the European Union. Since its formation in 1993, Germany has used its advantage of having a high population to flood the market with low wage people who return their income to Germany and invest there. In 2002, Germany was credited for introducing the first common European currency, which led many EU member countries to abandon their national currency. Based on the current EU structure, Germany sends 96 MPs to the EU parliament (Abiteboul and Stoyanovich, 2019). As a result, the representative is very powerful gaining respect from fellow representatives owing to Germany’s power in the region. Apart from political and economic power, Germany financial contribution to the EU if the highest in the union. In 2017 estimates, EU contributed approximately €10 billion to Germany while Germany contributed over € 19.587 billion 2017 (Michelsen et al. 2018).

The figures show that Germany contributed almost € 10 billion more, making it the highest contributor to the EU in the year 2017. This extra money is used by the EU to help its member countries in various projects and programs that enhance development in the region (McCormick, 2017). They include construction of roads, other infrastructure, and social amenities, subsidizing researches, innovation, sponsoring environmental protection programs among other uses. The other influential figure is Günther Oettinger who is the current Commissioner to the European commission nominated by Germany with responsibilities in human resource management in the union and Budget allocations (McCormick, 2017). All these powerful representations help Germany continue dominating in the union despite its failure to adhere with some of the regulation and rules created by the EU.

How Germany Benefits From EU
Apart from its contribution, Germany is the greatest beneficiary of the European Union and the Eurozone. First, Germany economy is greater than all the member countries, therefore, if it used its national currency, it would be more powerful than the member countries, and so its products would be expensive thus lowering their demand (Michelsen et al. 2018). Therefore, the presence of common currency enables Germany to compete in selling their products. Secondly, the Germany economy is dependent on production. To keep up the economy growing ad to avoid unemployment crisis, it has to keep selling its products. With the formation of the Eurozone and the EU, free trade without any barriers and tariffs was established. This expands the market for Germany companies to other EU member states thus helping it grow (Michelsen et al. 2018). As a result, unlike some of the other member states which have not benefited much from the formation of unions, Germany has been reaping great benefits. Based on a report by the Centre for European Policy, it showed that Germany was the greatest beneficiary of the EU having gained over $2.1 trillion between the years 1999 and 2017 (Fulbrook, 2019). Apart from monetary gains, the country has also benefited a lot I the education sector with over 651,000 students using the Erasmus exchange program since 1987 to 2017 to help them gain study experience from other European countries. Despite the benefits, Germany has continued with unpleasant actions and policies that anger other member states.

Pulse of Europe Initiative
As citizens of the member states start developing skepticism on the idea of integration and adoption of common currency pushed by Germany, many of them are calling for the end of the union. With citizens of countries like UK voting in a referendum supporting withdrawal from EU, and other nations trying to follow suit, the German citizens responded by initiating the pulse of Europe (Michelsen et al. 2018). The initiative was pushed by German lawyers Sabine Röder and Daniel after receiving funding from their social media and private networks. The initiative was founded in 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany and it was encouraging EU citizens to support pan European identify (Fulbrook, 2019). The movement spread throughout Europe. However, based on the previous arguments in this essay, the move was aimed at benefiting Germans. Some of the things and ideas pushed to include the idea that Europe must not fail (Sterling, 2013). Secondly, they claimed that the EU helped the European countries stay in peace and therefore supporting their separation would encourage war (Shen, 2017). Third, the initiative pushed the agenda that if EU fall the people would be directly responsible, and they had a role to play in ensuring that the union stays united. The other issues being pushed was a call for people to get out and vote those parties which supported the integration process; other areas included taking mistrust seriously.

Euro Crisis
The euro debt crisis existed when countries like Greece were experiencing economic crisis following huge debts that it owed other European countries. The crisis was starting to get out of hand as its ripple effects started being felt. The EU was divided with majority standing with Greece while Germany stood against it, advocating for its removal in the union. As a result, most European countries saw Germany as an enemy (Nugent, 2017). A country which is not willing to help the other country with claims that Greece had placed itself in the situation. At the end of the crisis, critics started blaming Germany for the woes being faced by the member countries. They argued that the introduction of the euro currency allowed countries to take loans in the form of goods from other powerful nations. Germany, therefore, took advantage of this and gave loans to the vulnerable countries like Greece thus leading to their crisis (Nugent, 2017). The worst part of it was how Germany refused to help the affected countries despite their ability and capability to help. As a result, many people started seeing the union as ineffective, something that triggered crisis and issues like Brexit.

Refugee Crisis
The next issues that worried the union and that showed the influence of Germany in the EU was the refugee crisis of 2016 and 2017. Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria and the Libya, Yemen and other crisis in different parts of the world, there was an increase in the number of refugees flowing to Europe (Nugent, 2017). The European Union stood its ground and rejected the entrance of these refugees. However, Germany defied the odds and allowed the refugees to their country. Most countries felt that Germany showed little respects to the laws and policies being passed by the union. Despite their concerns, Germany went ahead and partnered with turkey thus allowing millions of refugees in their territories thus angering the union member states. Despite all these mistakes, Germany has recently been trying to use its power and contributions to the union to try and control it (Nugent, 2017). However, its success will depend on the support it will receive from member countries. Going it alone, Germany will not succeed. Being the main beneficiary of the unions in the area, the collapse of the union will affect the economy greatly.

Due to Germany’s continued influence in the EU and its desire to control things in the union, it led to the crisis in the member states. One of the first countries most affected was the United Kingdom. As a result, the country held a referendum on whether to pull out of the European Union. The Brexit movement won, and it is currently In the process of trying to pull out legally and strike a deal on future business trades (Nugent, 2017). Different countries will follow suit if Germany does not stop its trend of undermining other countries and if it does not stop using its power to advance national instead of union interests. And if this happens, it is Germany which will suffer most.

Article 13/17
Another recent sign and show of power by Germany to influence the EU policies was in the passing of article 13/17 in March 2019. The legislation is aimed at regulating items like videos, gifs, memes and other materials shared online. Under this law, websites will be held responsible if they allow copyrighted materials to be posted on their websites. This includes social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram among other sites (Fulbrook, 2019). Those found guilty will be punished and fined heavy penalties. Article 13 is an EU directive meaning that it sets an objective that all member states will be required to follow after two years after it is passed. With the article already passed, online uses in EU have up to two years to continue enjoying sharing memes and other materials they share which have copyrights (Fulbrook, 2019). Some of the main opposers of the law include YouTube and Facebook as they are the most affected sites with the majority of the contents being uploaded in these sites being non-compliant with the law.

The biggest beneficiaries of this law based on analysts and experts will be great artists and rich content creators. However, to the online users and the low and middle class of people, they will suffer a lot from the law. The supporters of the law want to protect artists and other content creators from exploitation by ensuring that whenever one watches a video or any other content created it benefits the creators (Nugent, 2017). If the law is implemented across Europe internet users will suffer greatly. First, they will not be allowed to share content that they have not created. Only the creators of contents will be allowed to share their information. Since those who will be allowed to share will be few, and they have limited networks to reach all the people, the result will be that the number of materials available online will reduce considerably thus reducing the level of entertainment that is currently available (Nugent, 2017). For the content creators they will not be spared by the law in that if the various websites will be required to remove contents which violates their terms and conditions, they might end up removing their contents, yet they can do nothing about it.

Germany Role in the Passing of Article 13/17
Germany has a long history of media censorship. Traditionally the leaders would ban the press and journalists from addressing issues that affected the people (Efroni, 2008). However, with new legislation in place that guaranteed freedom of the press, the shift changed from press and media houses to internet and social media. One of the most sectors affected includes web sites searches, videos and motion pictures, and video games. When it comes to YouTube for instance before the agreement with GEMA was signed, almost 61% of YouTube content in Germany was censored. Despite the agreement, today hate speech is taken very seriously in Germany (Sterling, 2013). Websites which deny holocaust are blocked in the country as this crime is considered a felony in the country. This trend of censorship is what was transferred to the EU by Germany in collaboration with France. Using its influence in the Eurozone and the European Union, Germany pushed for the passing of article 13 after it entered an agreement with France (Sterling, 2013). The decision that the two countries agreed on determined the fate of the other 26 countries in the union. Basing its influence o economy and lending power, countries that oppose Germany live in fear of the consequences (Shen, 2017). This is one of the many examples where Germany is misusing its power to help pass its agenda and ideas to other European countries. As a result, different people in Europe are protesting against the growing power of Germany and how it is using its power to force EU passaged as with national interests and not the union interests.

The paper focused Germany influence in the European Union. The introduction part talked about the history of Germany, its population and the size. The body content of the paper discussed the various unions in Europe that Germany is part of including NATO, EU, and Eurozone. Then the paper then discussed the economy of Germany with an emphasis on comparison of its economy with that of other EU member states. It was found out that Germany is the most powerful country in the EU both politically and economically. The contributions of Germany to the foundation of the EU and the roles it has played over the years were also discussed in the paper. The paper then focused on the dominant role that Germany is playing and why different European countries are worried. Some of the dominant roles included the handling of the euro debt crisis and the refugee crisis. The paper also focused on the role the growing resistance by countries to withdraw from EU and how Germany is using its power by mobilizing people in the initiative called pulse of Europe to help in ending the crisis. The last thing discussed is on article 13 and 17 which were passed in 2019 aimed at censoring online contents. It was shown that Germany collaborated with France, and the two used their power to influence the passing of the law amid serious public outcry and protest.

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