After a long period of dominance by the centre‐right, social democracy is once more in the ascendancy in Europe. At the same time social democracy is cross‐cut by competing ideological paradigms, ranging from an unreformed or ‘traditional’ model through to the neo‐liberal tinged ‘Third Way’ agenda. With social democratic‐led governments in power in France, Germany and Great Britain, this ideological competition has to a certain extent been mapped onto these member states’ statecraft agendas. The article makes three points. First, that there is a high degree of institutional ‘fit’ between of the Federal Republic and the European Union and that this potentially favours the successful transfer of German policy initiatives to the EU level. Second, that the ‘Red‐Green model’ of political co‐operation between the SPD and Greens is grounded within the parameters of sub‐national politics and is not easily adapted to the demands of the national and supranational levels. Third, that as a result of this, any distinctively ‘German’ social democratic agenda for Europe is more likely to have the ideas of the ‘Neue Mitte’ at its core.