The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Germany’s Historical Relationship with the European Union

  • Daniela Schwarzer
Reference work entry


This article gives an overview of Germany’s European policies since the onset of European integration in the early 1950s. It covers German perspectives and Germany’s impact on a variety of European policy areas with a special focus on the European economic order. After the Second World War, Germany was politically and economically isolated and under the external control of the Western Allies. In this historical context European integration and embeddedness helped Germany to rehabilitate itself as a political actor and to boost trade and economic growth. Inside the European framework and in close cooperation and coordination with France, Germany has exerted considerable leadership in shaping the European order and European institutions. Germany has managed to include national models, norms and policy principles in crucial European projects like the single market, including competition policy, monetary and economic union and eastern enlargement. In the course of the 1990s Germany underwent a process of ‘normalising’ its EU and foreign policy, transforming itself into a more pragmatic and self-confident power that no longer hesitates to act explicitly in its national interest, outside a multilateral setting if necessary. This process culminated in Germany’s controversial leadership role in the sovereign debt crisis in 2010.


Economic governance Economic order European Union EU governance Euro Euro area European integration France German history Germany Leadership Single market 

JEL Classifications

E6 E42 F15 F33 F36 H3 H6 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bertelsmann Foundation. 2014. 20 Jahre Binnenmarkt: Wachstumseffekte der zunehmenden europäischen Integration.
  2. Bührer, W., and H.-J. Schröder. 1992. Germany’s economic revival in the 1950s: The foreign policy perspective. In Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy and the origins of the EEC, 1952–1957, ed. E. Di Nolfo, 174–196. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  3. Bulmer, S. 2014. Germany and the eurozone crisis: Between hegemony and domestic politics. West European Politics 37(6): 1244–1263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bulmer, S., and W. Paterson. 2013. Germany as the EU’s reluctant hegemon? Of economic strength and political constraints. Journal of European Public Policy 20(10): 1387–1405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dernburg, H.J. 1955. Rearmament and the German economy. Foreign Affairs 33(4): 648–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Federal Ministry of Defence. 2013. The history of the Bundeswehr.
  7. Henderson, D.R. 2007. German economic miracle. In The concise encyclopedia of economics.
  8. Jeffery, C., and W. Paterson. 2003. Germany and European integration: A shifting of tectonic plates. West European Politics 26(4): 59–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kessler, U. 2010. Deutsche Europapolitik unter Helmut Kohl: Europäische Integration als ‘kategorischer Imperativ’? In Deutsche Europapolitik: Von Adenauer bis Merkel, ed. G. Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet, C. Schukraft, N. Leuchtweis, and U. Kessler, 119–171. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.Google Scholar
  10. Lepenies, W. 2014. Frankreichs Furcht vor dem Fünften Reich. Die Welt, November 11.
  11. Oppermann, K. 2012. National role conceptions, domestic constraints and the new ‘normalcy’ in German foreign policy: The eurozone crisis, Libya and beyond. German Politics 21(4): 502–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Paterson, W.E. 2010. Does Germany still have a European vocation? German Politics 19(1): 41–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Paterson, W.E. 2011. The reluctant hegemon? Germany moves centre stage in the European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies 49 (Annual Review): 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rudzio, W. 2011. Das politische System der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ritschl, A. 2012. Germany, Greece and the Marshall Plan. The Economist, June 15.
  16. Schwarzer, D., and S. Collignon. 2005. Unternehmen und Banken auf dem Weg zur Währungsunion: Die “Association for the Monetary Union of Europe” als Motor eines transnationalen Konsenses. In Interessenpolitik in Europa, ed. B. Kohler-Koch and R. Eising, 203–226. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  17. Wehler, H.-U. 2009. Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte 1949–1990. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela Schwarzer
    • 1
  1. 1.