The “2014 Review”: Understanding the Pillars of German Foreign Policy and the Expectations of the Rest of the World Notes du Cerfa, n° 123, May 2015
German foreign policy is today confronted with a number of fundamental challenges. The country has become larger and has again become strong economically and must no longer content itself with its former role as France’s political junior partner in Europe or the United States’ junior partner in the world. At the same time, Berlin is far from being fully prepared for taking over this new role – deficits are both strategic and conceptual.
Neither the political class nor the media, not to mention the German society, holds concise ideas about German interests in Europe and the world beyond the promotion of peace and justice.
Germany’s political class has not failed to take note of this unsatisfactory situation. As one of the first measures of his new and second term in office, foreign minister Steinmeier announced in 2013 the “self-reflection on the perspectives of German foreign policy” (Steinmeier 2013), which was translated into the “Review 2014 – Außenpolitik Weiter Denken” project.
The debate on Germany’s future foreign and security policy has, however, only just begun. The Review did certainly not end it, but represents merely a snapshot of the longer process during which the country will outgrow its postwar role as France’s and the United States‘junior partner. The Review itself can only in a limited way provide an answer to the question of in which direction this reorientation should happen and how far it should go.
Annegret Bendiek is Senior Associate at the research group "EU/Europe" at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik). Between April and October 2014 she was part of the Policy Planning Staff at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.