Multilateralism, German Foreign Policy, and Central Europe

By Claus Hofhansel | Go to book overview

6

Germany and the eastern enlargement of the EU

The diplomatic negotiations on the eastern enlargement of the EU were rather long and complex. This chapter will focus on German policies on EU enlargement relating to two critical issues: freedom of movement of workers, and agriculture. At the end of the chapter, I will contrast the German position on these issues to German government responses to attempts to link EU enlargement, and Czech accession in particular, to Czech concessions on the Beneš decrees and the Temelín nuclear plant.

These issues are particularly well suited for an analysis of German support for multilateral principles, including generalized principles of conduct and diffuse reciprocity. Demands for long transition periods for the establishment of full freedom of movement of labor and decisions by the old member states and the European Commission to exclude the new member states from some agricultural subsidies aroused suspicions in the new member states that the EU was only willing to offer a “second class membership.” If such charges were true, this would be incompatible with the multilateral principle of generalized principles of conduct. Furthermore, a number of academic analysts, such as Bulmer et al., claim that

Germany is … not … pursuing its interests on specific issues on a case-by-case basis. … Rather, Germany has pursued, in a more strategic sense, broad-based and diffuse milieu goals, directed at shaping wider conditions of inter-state interaction and, above all, cooperation beyond national boundaries. 1

Anderson argued that “Germany's European policies after 1989 continue to be driven by concerns about process and principles, but Bonn officials are paying closer attention to distributive outcomes and net-pay-offs in the short term.” 2 Put differently, a key question is whether Germany is continuing to show a strong commitment to norms of diffuse rather than specific reciprocity. EU agricultural policy has obvious distributional implications pitting net budgetary recipients against net contributors, but distributional arguments also matter for domestic German debates on the free movement of labor.

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