Publications Éditoriaux de l'Ifri
Celebration of German reunification outside the Reichstag building in Berlin on the night of October 3, 1990.

Thirty Years after its Reunification, Germany's “European Moment”? Editoriaux de l'Ifri, October 1, 2020

On October 3, 1990, after forty years of division, Germany once again became one state. Less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 1989, the territories of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) became part of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) under Article 23 of its Basic Law.

The rapid process of German reunification continues to test the sense of national cohesion - territorially, socially and politically - of the reunified Germany to this day. Some dissenting voices in 1989-1990 had reckoned that the completion of reunification would take “at least a generation”. Where does Germany stand today, thirty years later?

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is hitting Europe and the world hard, the cards seem to have been reshuffled at both the national and European levels. In what way do the celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of German unity reveal Germany's position vis-à-vis the European Union?

The assessment of German reunification cannot be limited to a single German national phenomenon. Since 1990, German reunification and European construction have had a common destiny, with an interweaving of their successes, failures and limitations. In November 2019, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated that “German unity is also a gift of Europe to Germany”. To what extent is the integration that the European Union has experienced over the past 30 years not also a “gift” from Germany to Europe?


Paul Maurice is a Research Fellow at the Study Committee on Franco-German Relations (Cerfa) at the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri).


 This publication is available in French: "Trente ans après sa réunification, le « moment européen » de l’Allemagne ?".


Angela Merkel European integration Fall of the Berlin Wall German Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 German unification Maastricht Treaty Europe France Germany