The conduct of German foreign policy is characterised by a number of similar yet distinct features compared with other EU member states. Germany shares with them the expansion of the foreign policy agenda and a steadily growing variety of actors due to economic interdependence and the gradual erosion of the former domestic/foreign policy ‘divide’. This has created enormous challenges for the Auswärtiges Amt,1 the German foreign ministry. The need to cope with the changed international environment2 and increased coordination efforts at the national level contrast with budget cuts and public criticism of excessively ‘heavy’ administrative structures. Those responsible for daily diplomatic business even publicly3 warn against models of a ‘lean state’ (‘schlanker Staat’), and, as part of it, a ‘lean’ foreign service. This is not surprising given the enormously enlarged agenda the diplomats have to manage. Classical tasks such as judicial and consular affairs have been considerably extended through economic interdependence and the growth of tourism. For Germany, unification added another 17 million Germans to the population. There are also relatively new foreign policy tasks such as ‘lobbying’ for Germany in the host country beyond traditional government circles (‘public diplomacy’) to avoid misperceptions (as in the case of the 1989 upheavals in the former GDR and Eastern Europe), and taking charge of official German visitors who have become particularly numerous.
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