Germany's European policy has evolved over the past few years in favour of a stronger defence of its national interests. The country's enthusiasm for the European project, reduced to a dying flicker, has finally gone out, as has its traditional partnership with France. In this context it is difficult to envisage the outcome of the German Presidency and the relaunch of the EU Constitution of which it is in charge.

Those, at least, are the observations of Ulrike Guerot in her article Germany and Europe: new deal or deja vu?', published by the Notre Europe association. Senior Transatlantic Fellow to the German Marshall Fund of the US, Guerot notes "with alarm" Germany's break with its traditional European policy guidelines over the past few years and its growing marginalisation, the self-inflicted isolation of France which resulted in the No' vote on the EU Constitution.

Germany and Europe have always had a close yet ambivalent relationship. The leitmotiv of European integration has for a long time been to link Germany to Europe's destiny so as to prevent a repeat of German hegemony and to guarantee peace in Europe. For decades this proved to be successful, with Germany being the only one of the bigger countries in the EU to be enthusiastic about integration. In fact, defending integration and maintaining strong transatlantic relations were the key elements of its foreign policy. Germany under Konrad Adenauer up to and including Helmut Kohl was always willing to "negotiate in favour of Europe and to take a step back when considering questions of national interest".

Cracks started to appear during the last years of Helmut Kohl's reign, and continued under Chancellor Schroder (1998-2005) and now under Angela Merkel. German rhetoric has changed radically with the birth of Germany's "national interest" both in Europe and on an international level. The trend reached its peak in 2005 when Germany demanded a seat on the United Nations Security Council. With the outbreak of the war in Iraq, Germany, alongside France, opposed the United States and the majority of European countries, thereby breaking with its traditional political...

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