Three Cheers for Democracy
1 December 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged economies of the majority of European states and – once it is over – Germany will emerge as by far the most powerful country on the continent. This, combined with the departure of Angela Merkel in 2021, might tempt Germany to start promoting its interests more assertively. That would be a mistake.
Standing in Berlin in 2011, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski proclaimed that he fears “German power less than German inaction”. Such words would be unusual for any Polish minister at any time.
Accordingly, the opposition back home accused him of advocating too close relations with Berlin, and even of treason and selling out Polish sovereignty. In other European capitals – many of which at that time battled the eurozone crisis – enthusiasm for his speech was also subdued.
Almost a decade later, with the coronavirus pandemic exhausting the strength of the European economy, Sikorski’s words about the need for more German engagement seem to be a generally accepted wisdom throughout Europe. It was Berlin’s consent that made it possible to pool resources and issue common debt to fund the so-called Recovery Fund.