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Economic Crisis and New Nationalisms

German Political Economy as Perceived by European Partners

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Edited By Antonio Varsori and Monica Poettinger

As of a consequence of the ongoing economic crisis, in 2010 there was a marked deterioration in cross-border relations between Italy and Germany. In both countries the press published articles openly blaming economic hardship on the squandering attitude of southerners or the egoistic and mercantilist policies of northerners. The reigning confusion among economists, split between pro- and anti-Euro positions in both countries, could do nothing to counter this growing wave of populist nationalism.
Out of this situation grew the idea of organizing a conference to discuss the theoretical issues implied by recent economic policy debates, purging them of ideological and nationalistic overtones. This volume publishes the proceedings of the resulting international colloquium, «Economic crisis and new nationalisms: German economic policy as perceived by European partners», which was organized by the Foundation Cesifin Alberto Predieri and held in Florence in November 2012.
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Germany and Europe: Between Co-operation and Suspicion

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Germany and Europe: BetweenCo-operation and Suspicion

Antonio VARSORI

It is not an easy task for an historian dealing with to-day’s relationship between Germany and Europe in a period which is characterized by a serious and widespread economic and social crisis, as well as by resurging nationalisms, if not jingoist tensions. Such a task, however, if we do not want to limit ourselves to simplistic explanations must take into consideration long-term processes and the influence exerted by deep historical roots.

At first it must be pointed out that Europe’s history between the mid-Nineteenth century and the Second World War has been marked by a fundamental issue: Germany’s emergence as the major economic, industrial and military power in the “Old Continent”, closely tied to Berlin’s aspiration at being recognized an hegemonic role1. As an almost obvious reaction the other European great powers’ policies aimed at impeding the achievement by Germany of such goals in the international scenario. Besides the relevant ideological differences – there is a clear and deep difference between Imperial Germany and the Nazi régime – both the First and the Second World Wars can be interpreted as the opposition by Britain, France and Russia to Germany’s economic, political and military expansionism2. In both cases it was the intervention by an external non-European actor, by far economically and industrially stronger, as well as the standard-bearer of more modern and global political views – the United States – to decide the fate of both world...

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