Saturday 10 December 2022

The decline of Germany and Europe

From an article in the Financial Times, Tuesday 6 December.
'Constanze Stelzenmüller, director of the Center on the US and Europe at the Brookings Institution, has said Germany is a case study of a western state that made a “strategic bet” on globalisation and interdependence — and was now suffering the consequences.

'“It outsourced its security to the US, its export-led growth to China, and its energy needs to Russia,” she wrote in June. “It is now finding itself excruciatingly vulnerable in an early 21st century characterised by great power competition and an increasing weaponisation of interdependence by allies and adversaries alike.”

'...The concern now is that industrial production could, in the long term, shift away from Germany altogether. A poll over the summer by the BDI, Germany’s main business lobby, found that nearly one in four Mittelstand companies — the small and medium-sized enterprises that form the backbone of the German economy — were considering moving production abroad. 

'It was principally energy costs that were triggering the shift. But they’re not the only factor. The business environment in Germany — and Europe more broadly — has “deteriorated”, BASF’s Brudermüller said in October. Growth in the European market has been sluggish for a decade. EU regulation is creating “great uncertainty”, he said.

'Industry leaders cite measures such as the EU’s industrial emissions directive and its chemicals strategy for sustainability, designed to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products.' 
Germany, which has ruled Europe for so long, is now increasingly dependent on Chinese investment and forced by America to oppose Russia.

The decline of Germany is part of the decline (and fall?) of Europe, a story that begins before 1914, perhaps in 1905 when Japan defeated Russia. In 1914 Europe seemed paramount but was cankered.

In 1939 Europe was the centre of the world, but by 1945 Europe was conquered  by America and Communist Russia. Europe's loss of importance was slightly disguised because it remained the battleground for the Cold War until 1989. 

The European common market and single market have not reinvigorated the European economies. The European Union has no world influence and France and Germany have much less than in the past. Europeans are not having children and Europeans are in steep relative economic decline. European civilisation, as Neagu Djuvara said to me, has lost its vitality. 

He thought it inevitable that Europe would become Muslim, as did his contemporary Bernard Lewis, but Mr Djuvara foresaw American power remaining for a long time. This appalling war is speeding up what was the decline of Europe. 

I hoped Brexit would enable the UK to escape from this decline but three successive Prime Ministers have made a mess of that.


  1. Islam is unappealing to most European young people and most European governments don't welcome it. A Muslim takeover seems less likely than it appeared a few years ago.

  2. 'Germany, which has ruled Europe for so long'

    When was that?

    1. Nicholas Ridley had to resign from Margaret Thatcher's cabinet for saying the European Community was a German racket to take over Europe. I actually don't think it was. Power fell into their lap and they do share it with their junior partner France, thus achieving rule over Europe for very much longer than Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler.

    2. As I said more than once on ths blog, Germany's attitude is 'tie me down before I kill again' but her economy, her size and location made it inevitable that she dominated Europe, while France lost ground.

    3. The US has ruled over Europe since 1945.

    4. 'dominated Europe' is one thing, 'rule over Europe' is quite another...

    5. Yes, Toma, you are right. America rules Europe. Germany is America's satrap. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to use that word.