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Why the EU Elections Could Be a Turning Point for Germany and Europe

Public Affairs
Why the EU Elections Could Be a Turning Point for Germany and Europe

By Bernd Buschhausen, Managing Partner, Deputy Group Head Public Policy

We are living in game changing times. Who would have thought a few years ago that geopolitics are back with a vengeance and affecting business and trade so heavily? Who would have thought that we need to re-align our alliances when all seemed so simple in a world looking so globalised? And who would have thought that building-back home might be right way ahead to manage the tides in international supply chains?

All these questions lead to one conclusion – we must unify our efforts in Europe, or face serious consequences.

The Importance of EU Elections

But where to begin with? Well, the EU elections are a start. Though always more a test of domestic policy-making, the upcoming EU elections may yet become a game changing element for the future of the EU as well as for Germany. The rise of the far-right parties is of major concern in Germany and elsewhere, not so much because its impact on policies (they will remain a minority) but because the push for national thinking diminishes what makes us strong: European unity, in trade, business, and values.

The scandals of the past few weeks involving allegations of Russian and Chinese infiltration especially of the right-wing populist party AfD in Germany have shown that for reliable politics you need reliable partners. Needless to add, with Europe in their mind.

And EU elections matter, particularly in Germany. Of the 715 seats in the European parliament, 96 will go to German representatives. That is the largest group of Member State representatives. Most of the voters are not aware of that, and many forget the benefits of the EU for the largest export nation. Indeed, only some 31% are satisfied with the impact of EU policy-making. However, Germany actually needs Europe more than many are willing to realise. We need strength of the EU for global trade negotiations, we need the collaboration with France to keep the European engine running, we need a level playing field through equal set of rules among all European partners.

The Need for European Alignment

In addition, the long overdue transformation policies the Federal Government has embarked upon  in energy, defence, industrial policy, information technologies, mobility, housing and many other areas, also requires European alignment to succeed.

Transformation towards a more sustainable future comes at a price, it is better done together than alone. Thus, the June elections will be a litmus test on the Federal Government’s transformation agenda for the remaining electoral period, impacting positions, programmes, and personnel also for the German national elections in 2025.

As elsewhere in the EU, also the German public is less concerned about the shape of the European institutions than national politics. But in view of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the understanding that more needs to be done to protect our freedom and security, is ramping up awareness to push for change.

Increasingly, both business and the public come to realise that geopolitics matter. According to a recent global survey by the German Allianz group, risks related to politics and protectionism come up as the top risk by companies overall (at 73%). In consequence, corporations especially in Germany are seeking to relocate supply chains as an answer to rising uncertainties in a year of major elections across the globe.

The relocation example also underlines that Europe remains strong, attractive, and sustainable for business and people – not despite but because of the freedom, liberties, rule of law, and yes also regulations it shapes. Other options may initially seem tempting but when things become crucial, it is the prospect of security, rule of law, and predictability of policy-making that provides the long-term basis for success.

That is why we should be bothered about the EU elections. Because EU matters.

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