Berlin and Paris strive for greater EU sovereignty vis-à-vis the USA and embark on massive rearmament – due also to Germany's severe setbacks in its rivalry with Washington.
Germany and France are seeking greater “European sovereignty” and aim to “strengthen the EU as a geopolitical actor,” according to a Franco-German declaration published yesterday in Paris on the occasion of the ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty. The declaration provides military support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” announces new armament projects, and a Franco-German exercise in the “Indo-Pacific.” This is also due to Germany's severe setbacks in its rivalry with the Unites States, including its growing military dependence and the threat of its deindustrialization due to the exodus of production sites to the USA. According to the French publicist Emmanuel Todd, the current global power struggle – “the third world war has begun” – is also “about Germany.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz anticipates the emergence of a “multipolar world,” in which Germany and the EU are to assume leading roles as strong military powers.
Setbacks in Transatlantic Rivalry
The development of the relationship between Germany and the United States is largely the reason behind yesterday’s calls for “European sovereignty.” In its rivalry with Washington, Berlin has suffered several serious setbacks during the past year. On the one hand, the transatlantic alliance’s approach to the Ukraine conflict at the military level, is clearly under NATO, and therefore, US command. On the economic level, German economic dependence on business with the US has increased with the cessation of all economic ties to Russia, and includes the new dependence on US LNG. The latter is permanently assured through the demolition of the Nord Stream pipelines. Even members of Berlin’s government apparatus have, in the meantime, begun blaming western powers of the crime – off the record. Parallel, with its hundreds of billions of dollars in investment programs, the Biden administration has begun to attract industries from Europe, especially from Germany, on a grand scale. Business circles are warning of Germany’s deindustrialization. There are additional factors, not least among them, the fact that a large chunk of Berlin’s €100 billion arms package will not be going to the German but to the US arms industry. Berlin loses – Washington wins.
Washington Versus Berlin
Recently, the French publicist, Emmanuel Todd made a pointed assessment of the situation. Todd had made himself a name, with the publication of his book “After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order,” in 2002. A talk between Todd and Jürg Altwegg, an author of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), was published in the Weltwoche, a right-wing, strongly Swiss-neutrality oriented weekly magazine. According to Todd, the current international conflicts – “the third world war has begun” – are not least of all “about Germany.” Referring to US strategists such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, the French publicist explained that for years, Washington has been seeking to interrupt any sort of “rapprochement” between Berlin and Moscow. This corresponds to US efforts to “decouple Germany from Russian gas,” which was achieved with the demolition of the Nord Stream pipelines. Altogether, Berlin is under pressure from a US-dominated “Washington – London- Warsaw – Kiev axis.” Its “predominant role in Europe” is already “a thing of the past.” There is only one issue, where the German government is resisting. As Chancellor Scholz’ trip to China demonstrated, Germany refuses to cut ties with the People's Republic of China.
The Multipolar World
Over the past few months, Scholz has been repeatedly trying to verbally focus on alternatives to the growing one-sided dependence on the USA. For example, in December, in a government declaration to the Bundestag on the current global shift in the balance of power, he proclaimed that “the idea of a bipolar era, where everything revolves around the USA and China ignores the global reality. Already in September he had predicted in an interview that the world will be “multipolar.” There will be “many powerful nations,” including Asian nations such as Japan, India, Indonesia or Vietnam, but also “successful nations in Africa and in South America.” At the beginning of the year, Scholz had declared in an internationally noted article published in the US periodical Foreign Affairs, that in the currently emerging “multipolar world,” “Germans are intent” on being an “advocate for multilateral solutions to global problems” within the European Union. “This is the only way for Germany to successfully navigate the geopolitical rifts of our time.” In this context, Scholz added, “China’s rise does not warrant isolating Beijing or curbing cooperation.” This statement is in open opposition to the US’ containment policy vis à vis the People's Republic of China.
“Shaping the International Order”
According to Scholz, maintaining a greater degree of autonomy is of primary importance for Berlin and the EU in the emerging “multipolar world.” It is necessary to “ensure greater autonomy for Europe and the geopolitical capacity for shaping the international order,” Scholz writes with French President Emmanuel Macron in an op ed published on the weekend immediately preceding yesterday’s celebrations marking the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty in Paris. In a Franco-German declaration published for the celebration, they declare that they will work together for a European Union that is “more resilient, more sustainable and more capable to act independently” than is currently the case. The objective is “to strengthen Europe’s strategic sovereignty” as well as “make Europe’s economic, industrial and technological base more resilient, competitive and efficient.” In summary, the aim is “a genuine European sovereignty.”
“The Strongest Army in the EU”
The quest for “European sovereignty” is linked to a clear war and arms buildup policy. The Franco-German Declaration states that they will “continue to show unwavering support to Ukraine” in all areas possible, particularly from the political, to the economic, to the cultural. Military support is explicitly included, not mentioned is diplomatic support for achieving a negotiated settlement. “Strengthening European defense capabilities is particularly crucial.” This dovetails with new efforts to build up the respective national armed forces. President Macron has just announced a dramatic hike in his country’s military budget – to a total of €400 billion for the period from 2024 to 2030. In a comparable period from 2019 to 2025, the military budget was at €295 billion. Paris is thus following Berlin, which had also massively increased its military budget. In the meantime, the demanded increase is not of 100 but of €300 billion. In reference to Berlin’s plans to increase the defense budget, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that Germany is “the largest national economy in Europe.” “Therefore, we should also aim at having the strongest and best equipped army in the EU.” His “job” was “to set the course for the Zeitenwende to succeed”.
 See also Die Flüssiggas-NATO.
 See also Crime Scene Baltic Sea.
 See also In “Systemic Competition” with the USA.
 See also Führungsnation im Krieg.
 Emmanuel Todd: Après l‘empire. Essai sur la decomposition du système américain. Paris 2002.
 Jürg Altwegg: „In diesem Krieg geht es um Deutschland”. weltwoche.ch 07.01.2023.
 Vgl. Zbigniew Brzezinski: The Grand Chessboard. American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. New York 1997.
 Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz zum Europäischen Rat am 15. und 16. Dezember 2022 vor dem Deutschen Bundestag am 14. Dezember 2022 in Berlin.
 Scholz: Deutsche Waffen haben Erfolge der Ukraine ermöglicht. deutschlandfunk.de 18.09.2022.
 Olaf Scholz: The Global Zeitenwende. Foreign Affairs, January/February 2023.
 Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz: Sieben Ziele zur Stärkung der EU. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.01.2023.
,  Deutsch-Französische Erklärung. Paris, 22. Januar 2023.
 Regierung in Frankreich kündigt deutliche Erhöhung der Militärausgaben an. deutschlandfunk.de 20.01.2023.
 See also „Wie die USA im Zweiten Weltkrieg”.
 Pistorius: Bundeswehr soll stärkste Armee der EU werden. n-tv.de 22.01.2023.