Germany in the European Union: Constructing normality

Adrian Hyde-Price, Charlie Jeffery

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44 Citations (SciVal)


Germany's role in the European Union has been the subject of intense political speculation and academic debate. The key question is whether Germany has made, or is undergoing, a re-evaluation of the goals and means of European integration policy in the aftermath of unification. This article sheds new light on the debate by examining shifts in German political elites' normative understandings of Germany's role in European affairs. It uses a constructivist approach that challenges rationalist accounts of German Europapolitik and provides a more nuanced understanding of how German policy towards the EU is changing. The authors argue that the end of cold war bipolarity and German unification provided a window of opportunity for normative change and that a number of influentially situated domestic actors have purposefully sought to generate and reshape debate on German European policy norms. This is illustrated by three case studies that focus on Germany's strategic partnership with France; the shift in German security policy in the 1990s and its embedding in the EU's European security and defence policy; and the role and aims of the Länder in German EU policymaking. The authors conclude that German political elites are engaged in a process of ‘constructing normality’ that will have important implications for the future direction of the European integration process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-717
Number of pages29
JournalJCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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