The open access article deals with Angela Merkel’s work and impact within the European Union (EU) as well as the possibilities and limits of German leadership in Europe. Articles on EU-Belarus relations as well as changes and group formation within EU’s China policy offer further insights into and discussion of European foreign policy. In addition, possible extensions of competences and law reforms are discussed by analysing the COVID-19 pandemic and the electoral system of the EU. Impressions of the 13th German-Nordic-Baltic Forum give further impetus for European solutions for the challenges of the current time.
Angela Merkel's legacy in European politics: crises, leadership, role model
Lucas Schramm und Wolfgang Wessels
In view of numerous contributions, and especially on the occasion of Angela Merkel’s last participation in a meeting of the European Council in October 2021, this contribution analyses the work and effects of the former Chancellor on European politics. The authors shed light on the major political challenges and changes of the Merkel era (2005–2021) and critically explain Germany’s role in the numerous crises in the European Union. With a view to Merkel’s actions, they put the forms, possibilities, and limits of German leadership in Europe up for discussion. Doing so, Merkel appears both as a political entrepreneur and as driven by functional constraints and logics. In this respect, Merkel stands in the tradition of Jean Monnet, who viewed European integration as a crisis-driven process of limited but powerful and effective steps towards “more” Europe.
The divergence between objectives and competences in the European Union: an analysis using the example of health policy in time of the COVID-19 pandemic
The European treaties assign goals and tasks to the European Union that sometimes do correspond to the conferral of a very limited competence by the member states. Using the corona crisis as an example, the text highlights the problematic nature of this discrepancy between European objectives and European competences. Finally, an argument is made for supplementing competences in the area of health policy with regard to cross-border pandemics.
A strong EU for a safe (eastern) neighborhood – EU-Belarus relations
Katrin Böttger und Nicolas Butylin
Since the fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020, the country has been in the midpoint of a geopolitical stand-off. Unprecedented violence against peaceful protesters, economic and political sanctions against the regime in Minsk and an orchestrated migration crisis at the European Union’s (EU) external borders have shaped EU-Belarus relations in recent months. In the wake of the crises, the EU stepped up its measures against the Lukashenko regime to be more resilient to hybrid attacks by an authoritarian system and to support the Belarusian democracy movement.
The contributions fundament is based on the EU’s Global Strategy, which underpins and provides a framework for the EU-Belarus relations. Furthermore, the article discusses whether the objectives of the strategy have been achieved and if the EU as an international actor can generate security in their Eastern Neighbourhood.
Group formation in the EU’s China policy: implications for coherence in European foreign policy
Franco Algieri und Joachim Honeck
Relations with China are of high priority in the context of the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy. They reflect strengths and weaknesses of the EU as an actor in international relations. Regarding the issue of coherence in European foreign policy in particular, it can be useful to analyse the Union’s China policy. In light of a changing European China policy, this article identifies three groups that are of interest for the closer definition of this policy. Based hereupon, possible implications of this group formation for the further development of the European foreign policy and the European China policy are highlighted.
Shared vision, common values, and stronger trust: German-Nordic-Baltic perspectives for the future of the EU
Since the 2010s, severe crises have hit the European Union (EU) approximately every five years: first the financial and euro crisis, then the migration crisis and Brexit, and last (but certainly not least) the COVID-19 pandemic. The crises have left their mark on the inner cohesion of the Union and on the level of solidarity between its member states. As a result, three central themes will shape the EU in the coming years: the lack of trust between member states, increasing value divergence within the EU, and a lack of a shared vision for the future of the Union. These factors will impact upcoming negotiations on key legislative initiatives such as the Green Deal, digitalisation, the Health Union, the renegotiation of EU fiscal rules, the strategic compass, or even on possible treaty changes following the Conference on the Future of Europe. How well the EU will be able to master these challenges, will depend on the member states’ ability to prioritise the common good of the Union above their national interests.
Europeanization of European Parliament elections: the tandem system
Jo Leinen und Friedrich Pukelsheim
The tandem system provides a frame for the election of the European Parliament paying due tribute to the European level of the event. It invites Europarties to contest the election with power, visibility and influence. The system proceeds in three steps. The first step apportions all parliamentary seats among Europarties by aggregating the electorate's votes at Union level. The second step allots the seats by Member State and Europarty in a way safeguarding the preordained seat contingents of the Member States. The third step assigns the seats of a party in a Member State to domestic candidates by means of the same provisions which Member States have been employing in the past, in compliance with the Union's principle of subsidiarity.