Germany's brief moment in the sun

Simon Tilford
27 June 2011

Four years ago, Germany was widely seen as the sick man of Europe, beset by weak economic growth, a fast-ageing population and a pervasive sense of angst about the future. Now the talk is of Germany's unrivalled power, even of its hegemonic status in Europe. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of the eurozone, whose survival – so the narrative goes – hangs on German benevolence. Germany is portrayed as the 'motor' or 'powerhouse' of the European economy, alone in Europe in having retained a manufacturing base worthy of its name. In this new CER essay, Simon Tilford argues that this new narrative is misleading – and ultimately damaging. Germany has its strengths, of course, but its economic might is exaggerated, and it is highly dependent on its European backyard. Indeed, there are good reasons for thinking that its economic and political ascendancy will be short-lived.

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