Germany is doomed to lead Europe – The EU’s biggest member is in charge, whether Germans like it or not.
Walk into any meeting in Brussels and, most likely, a German will be leading it. In the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the former German defence minister, is in charge. For the next six months, German ministers will be cajoling their peers into signing off legislation as the country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency. In the European Council, where the bloc’s leaders butt heads, it might technically be Charles Michel, the former prime minister of Belgium, heading it. But it is Angela Merkel—longer in post than the leaders of France, Spain, Italy and Poland combined—who is the undisputed top dog. The EU’s main response to the covid-19 crisis—a flagship €750bn recovery fund paid for with debt issued collectively by the EU—is based on a plan cooked up in Berlin and Paris. The Germans are running the show.
How did Henry Kissinger put it? “Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe, too small for the world.”
PS: German oddity 5. Young adults in Germany have never known another chancellor other than Angela Merkel. She has been in office since 2005.