In the murderous 20th century that experienced two world wars, the Holocaust, and the threat of atomic annihilation, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a rare moment of happiness. In hindsight, November 9, 1989 and October 3, 1990 (the day of German re-unification) merge into one and the same single event. Twenty-five years ago, things were more complicated.
Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the German economist Wilhelm Röpke had asked under which conditions, given the crimes of its Nazi past, Germany could be re-admitted into the community of civilized nations. He mentioned four preconditions: Germany must abandon its Prussian heritage once and for all; it had to embrace the Western canon of values, i.e., democracy, the rule of law and a liberal market economy; and it had to be re-organized as a federal republic. Röpke spoke only of West Germany, for East and West – that was his fourth precondition – had to remain separated. One is reminded of the Spanish philosopher Donoso Cortés who, in the 19th century, had spoken of German unity as an idea condemned by reason as well as history.
The Berlin Wall had not yet been dismantled completely when some politicians and intellectuals, most outspoken among them Günter Grass, warned that the re-unification of the two German states would be a mistake. The founding of the German nation-state, they argued, had been the first step on a path that eventually led to National Socialist dictatorship and the Holocaust. A united Germany would become, once again, a danger for Europe and the world. As a sign of repentance, Germany should remain divided after the fall of the Wall – nothing more than a federation between East and West was acceptable from a political as well as a moral standpoint. Germans should be content to find their unity as a cultural nation – as Herder and Goethe had proclaimed in the 19th century. The German Chancellor, however was not impressed; less than three weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall Helmut Kohl outlined his political strategy for the days and weeks to come in a ten-point- plan before the German parliament, which was still in session in Bonn. Its last point was simply called „German Unity“. Today, any expression of triumph should be avoided, yet quiet joy is appropriate: the process of German re-unification is a success story – at least from a domestic point of view. The topic of my talk is a view from the outside. What have the consequences of German re-unification been for Europe, for the European Union and especially for France, the country with which Germany had formed the motor that propelled European unification?
On the morning after the Berlin Wall came down, I was in Paris. Everywhere signs could be seen that recalled the year 1789. They were relics of the celebrations in remembrance of the French Revolution that had adorned the streets of Paris since the 14th of July, the day when the Bastille was stormed two hundred years ago. Now, however, an unheard-of event had happened in East Germany that made the commemoration of the French Revolution recede into the background: a revolution without terreur. The newspapers were full of eye witness reports and comments on the events in Berlin. I remember one headline: „Afraid of the Germans“. The headline had no question mark … Wiedervereinigung – in German – was the word of the hour. No one seemed to have any doubts that it would come and would come soon. For a long time, France had accepted Germany’s economic primacy in the European Union. Now it would also have to accept the political leadership of a greater Germany. An American politician who spoke English with a heavy German accent had foreseen the first victim of German re-unification would be France. Henry Kissinger’s prophecy had arrived. Soon, the self-confident rhetoric of German politicians reminded the French public of the bourgeois who has just made a large inheritance and admonishes his son: Parle fort, nous sommes riches! Speak up, we are rich!
On November 9, 1989, the German Chancellor was on a state visit in Poland. Hearing the news from home, Helmut Kohl returned immediately to Berlin, i.e., West-Berlin as it was called then, to give a speech there. Poland looked rather positively upon German re-unification looming on the horizon; influential Polish intellectuals like Adam Michnik and Bronislaw Geremek had welcomed its coming in the past. Only later did tensions arise when Poland, which saw itself as one of the victorious powers of the Second World War was not invited to join the Two-Plus-Four negotiations that eventually sealed the re-unification process. But it took only a while and Polish nervousness disappeared: „With German help back to Europe“ became a mantra of Polish foreign policy.
The final settlement of the border issue between Poland and Germany was still open when the Berlin Wall fell. It became a crucial issue for French foreign policy. Like Great Britain, though with a little more restraint, France had tried to obstruct the process of German re-unification. That was the case not only with François Mitterand; his predecessor Valéry Giscard d’Estaing had proposed that the German Democratic Republic should not unite with the Federal Republic but join the European Union directly as a sovereign state. When it became obvious that re-unification was unstoppable France tried as much as it could to influence the process that would lead to it – by assuming the role of a lawyer of Polish interests. France proposed to make reunification dependent upon the Federal Republic of Germany’s recognition of the so-called Oder-Neiße Border. Yet Helmut Kohl prevailed upon Mitterand: the border treaty between Germany and Poland entered into force on November 14, 1990 – more than one month after reunification. In the attempt to make reunification dependent upon the border treaty, France was pursuing more its own than Polish interests, it tried to prevent the EU enlargement to the East, Poland included, as long as possible. To no small annoyance of the Polish government, Mitterand declared that the accession process still would need many years and that its outcome was not foreseeable at all. Germany, on the contrary, sought to speed up the process and thereby gave Poland high priority.
France remained resistant. Paris feared – supported by Margaret Thatcher – that a rash widening of the Union would postpone the necessary deepening of its key institutions. A fear that in hindsight appears more than justified. The real threat, however, was a geopolitical scenario that would inevitably change power relations in the European Union: with the accession of more countries from Central and Eastern Europe all of a sudden the united Germany would move from the periphery to the center. Not only would its economic impact grow; no one could prevent Germany from assuming the political leadership of the Union.
In order to understand the impact of this development, one must go back to the end of the Second World War. After German surrender, General de Gaulle declared that a priority of French politics in the future would consist in preventing the rebirth of a German unitary state. Only a loose federation of the three zones, occupied by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, might be tolerated. Several times, with the emphasis unique to him de Gaulle declared: Nous ne voulons pas de Reich! When the European Coal and Steel Community was founded in 1951, de Gaulle regarded it initially as a victory for Germany and as a defeat for France. Unlike after the First World War defeated Germany was allowed to join the Community without paying any reparations. France, however, victorious and generous – La France victorieuse et généreuse – had returned the Saar to Germany. How long, de Gaulle asked, would the Germans be content to be „decent and restrained losers“ who courted the benevolence of victorious France? De Gaulle had no illusions. In 1951, he complained that the Germans were becoming more and more self-confident and demanding vis-à-vis their European, and especially French, counterparts. He was afraid that Germany would inflict a defeat on France – in the field of the economy.
De Gaulle was a visionary – but he also understood the limits that Realpolitik set all particular visions. Once the Germans had decided to become occidentaux, de Gaulle became convinced that the Europe of the future whose nations would no longer kill each other but cooperate, could be built only with Germany, „this manifold, painful and elusive nation“. Therefore it became even more important for France to secure its role as primus inter pares on the European continent. As de Gaulle wrote in his Memoirs, his political convictions and actions were determined by what he called une certaine idée de la France: France could fulfill its historical destiny only when it showed ambition and greatness, grandeur. Its greatness was always measured in comparison with Germany – and would always be threatened by its neighbor. This was de Gaulle’s guideline in his relationship with Germany, even after the country had become a member of the European Community. De Gaulle championed a „European Europe“, une Europe européenne. This meant a Europe for which the United States would not be a leader but a partner, a Europe for which the friendship between France and Germany would guarantee its freedom and its progress. De Gaulle congratulated himself on having found the adequate partner for his European policy in the German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. It mattered that Adenauer was a Catholic from the Rhineland. It would have been much more difficult for him, de Gaulle maintained, to achieve, first the reconciliation and, then, the friendship between France and Germany with a Prussian Protestant. This way, le vieux Français et l’Allemand encore plus vieux, the old Frenchman and the even older German built the cathedral of a unified Europe.
It was De Gaulle, who seldom missed a chance for exuberance, who had compared the Europe that he and Adenauer envisioned to a cathedral. And yet he warned his compatriots not to become too sentimental toward Germany, as he made clear in a speech before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the French parliament. That Adenauer and myself embraced in Reims Cathedral, he said, has not changed the basic problem for France: to uphold under all circumstances a political disparity between our two countries. Even in his private conversations with Adenauer de Gaulle insisted that there could be no parity between France and Germany. Defeated in the Second World War, Germany was no longer a World Great Power and should never become one again. France, however, a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council was a World Power and would remain one – not least because it was in possession of atomic weapons that were forbidden for Germany. It was only logical that the doctrine of political disparity led de Gaulle to reject the idea of a European Defence Community – a community in which victorious France and defeated Germany would have been put on the same footing.
The friendship between Germany and France was indispensable for promoting the unity of Europe and securing its independence, from both the United States and the Soviet Union. Yet it was important, de Gaulle never tired of repeating, that the relationship between the two countries was based on political imbalance. France would claim its leadership among the democracies assembled in the European Union – and Germany would have to honor this claim. In this respect, „Gaullism“ became, across political and party boundaries, a constant of French foreign policy.
And then the Wall came down, communism faltered in Central and Eastern Europe, geopolitical power lines on the continent shifted, and Germany’s political influence increased considerably – to the detriment of France. At this moment, La Régle du Jeu, the magazine edited by Bernard-Henri Lévy, arguably the politically most influential among French intellectuals, published, as a commentary on German unification, an article entitled L’Empire latin, The Latin Empire. The article was based on a hitherto unpublished manuscript, an aide-mémoire that the philosopher Alexandre Kojève, who had become an influential policy advisor, presumably had presented General de Gaulle in 1945, immediately after the end of the Second World War. In this aide-mémoire, Kojève had warned that a resurgent Germany would jeopardize the future role of France in Europe. Therefore France, together with Italy and Spain, should form a Latin Empire that would keep Germany in check. Among the rather brutal anti-German measures proposed by Kojève was an almost complete de-industrialization of Germany, resembling the plan that the American Secretary of Finance Henry Morgenthau had proposed to President Roosevelt. Publishing this text, which dated back to 1945 for the first time in 1990, one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was a clear sign of the fear France associated with German re-unification.
That happened twenty-four years ago. Gone and forgotten? By no means. On March 15, 2013, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica published a comment by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben with the headline „If only a Latin Empire would form in Europe“ that alluded to Kojève’s aide-mémoire from 1945. Only a few days later the comment was reprinted by Libération, the French newspaper close to the reigning Socialist Party, in a translation with the even more aggressive title „Que l’Empire latin contre-attaque!“ This was the moment when the quarrel between the French and the German governments on how to solve the financial crisis of the European Union had reached its peak. A conflict between two governments became a new stage in the North-South-conflict in which France and Germany faced each other since the beginning of the 19th century. You ask for a more recent proof for the survival of the idea if not of a Latin Empire so at least of a Latin Bloc directed against Germany? Here it is: Thomas Piketty in a recent interview published on January 6 on his idea of a Eurozone Parliament: “I think if there was a European parliament as the one I advocated for, in which each country was represented in proportion to their population, in the end the German parliament members would be put in a minority by their Italian, French and Spanish counterparts, and the level of the deficit chosen would be higher than what the Germans would like. Hence at the end of the day we would have more progressive policies that we have today. If France and Italy made a proposal of Eurozone Parliament, of course Germany would like to refuse it, but it would be difficult to refuse it for ever.”
From as early as the beginning of the 19th century dates the dream of the European countries of the Mediterranean to build an alliance together. By creating a „Latin Bloc“, later to be enlarged by Latin America and North Africa, Europe would reach unity and maintain a position of power in the world, not least vis-à-vis the United States of America. The Mediterranean would become the intellectual and political center of Europe. The wish to build a Latin bloc remained alive as a dream of intellectuals, but never had a chance to be pursued as a serious political project in the second half of the 20th century. From the moment when the foundation of the European Community for Coal and Steel set the course for building a united Europe, a Latin coalition was no longer a political option on the continent. It was revived when it became obvious how much Germany profited from the enlargement of the European Union to the East. Added to this was the failure of François Mitterand’s strategy to weaken the influence of the Bundesbank and to reduce the economic power of Germany through the introduction of the Euro.
At their meeting in Barcelona in 1995, the member states of the European Union decided to create a partnership with the non-European countries of the Mediterranean: it was the birthday of the so-called „Barcelona Process“. However, it remained without any effect and did not offer France a fair chance to build a counterweight in Southern Europa to compensate for the growing German influence in Central and Eastern Europe. Thus the plan to create a Mediterranean Union was born, the so-called Union Méditerranéenne, whose contours Nicolas Sarkozy outlined first as presidential candidate in a speech in Toulon and then, after his election in 2007, on African soil in a speech in Tangier. The mastermind behind the plan to create a Mediterranean Union was a close collaborator and conseiller of Sarkozy, Henri Guaino, whose mother is Spanish, who was born in Arles, and who called himself at every opportunity a proud homme du midi. Guaino was a declared Euroskeptic and harsh critic of the Brussels bureaucracy. In his view, a Mediterranean Union, a coalition of Latin cultures, would counter, on the political as well as the cultural level, the imperial ambitions of both the Anglosphere and of Germany.
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde on February 16, 2012, Henri Guaino openly declared that the Mediterranean Union was a project directed against Germany, contre les Allemands, following de Gaulle’s strategy to maintain France’s greatness vis-à-vis Germany. Sarkozy was careless enough to believe that he could realize this plan alone, à la Bonaparte or, as the French call it, as cavalier seul. He had not reckoned with Angela Merkel who was alarmed to learn that the new Union would consist solely of the countries of the Mediterranean, operate without the consent of Brussels and thereby escape German influence. Under German pressure, the Union Méditerranéenne was re-baptized Union pour la Méditerranée and became a project of the European Union. Officially, the headquarters of the Union pour la Méditerranée is in Barcelona, but in truth it is located in Brussels. As a result, bureaucracy reigns. The Union has contributed nothing to the debates on Europe’s difficult future; most importantly it did not prepare the Union for the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring whose short duration was also a result of Europe’s inability to respond adequately to it.
Therewith the Latin option seemed to have died – but it was resurrected with the financial crisis in Southern Europe. As a result of the crisis and the divergent options for solving it, a Latin fraternity formed, a demonstration of Southern togetherness occurred that obviously boosted the mood of those in close embrace but had no visible political impact. When you look at the photograph, taken two years ago at the EU summit in Rome, on which the trio François Hollande, Mario Monti und Mariano Rajoy buddies up and relegates Angela Merkel to the margin of the picture, you realize immediately that a new North-South- conflict has broken out in Europe. In recent months, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Italy’s Premier Matteo Renzi have tried to present themselves as champions of a new Southern Alliance. Without any doubt, they would subscribe to the harsh indictment of an American journalist who wrote in the Washington Post that “Merkel has become a latter-day Clemenceau, imposing a neo-Versailles that weakens support for mainstream democratic parties and politics” in both France and Italy.
The North-South-conflict is a constant of European history. The self-perception of the South is a mixture of self-confidence and self-doubt, pride in the past and fear of the future. On the one hand, European civilization begins in the South: the three great monotheistic religions, democracy, the rule of law and Western philosophy have their origin around the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is, in the words of Paul Valéry, a civilization-producing machine. Conflicts arise when the barbarians from the North pretend to partake in civilization as well: „How dare these Sauerkraut eaters pose as followers of the subtle Athenians!“ one can read in a pamphlet from the First World War titled La Culture latine. When the Greek president Karolos Papoulias lashed out against the German Finance Minister with the words: „Who is Mr. Schäuble that he dares to offend the Greeks!“ culture was calling barbarism to order.
Yet it was the Protestant North that, in the process of industrialization, built the foundations of the modern world. The South became the loser of modernization. The pain of Southern Europeans at this loss is tempered by their pride in having preserved ways of life that have disappeared in the North. In the South, savoir vivre is said to be more important than savoir-faire, the „Midi“ is an emotional category. A sentimental civilization finds its expression in daydreaming, far niente, siesta, loose self-control and imagination – and is confronted with the endurance, the earnestness, the energy, and the initiative that are associated with the North. These are stereotypes, of course, but it is important to understand that they are often invoked with pride in the South and with a feeling of nostalgia in the North. These stereotypes are building- blocks of a moral geography whereby the adjective moral has less to do with morality then with the human mores, the ways of living that men regard as being self-evident. Not only different world views, but also different moral geographies distinguish human societies from each other. Whereas stereotype-forming is indispensable in art and literature, it is dangerous in the realm of politics. In the European Union, it has become a major threat to its stability and probably to its survival. It is irresponsible to turn dissent about how to solve the financial crisis of the Union into a North-South-conflict and a clash of mentalities – something that politicians both in the North and in the South have done, thereby following a politics of emotion that primarily serves their domestic interests. The victim is the European idea. The new North-South- conflict is a threat to the Union.
Only a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became obvious that French resignation and German exuberance were about to create a political climate that could harm the future development of the European Union. The French should have shown more composure or sang-froid, the Germans could have afforded more self-restraint. In the German government, no one was able to see how much it would have meant to President Mitterand if the German Chancellor had informed him at the earliest moment about the strategy he wanted to follow to achieve German re-unification. It would have corresponded to the spirit of the French-German treaty if Kohl and Mitterand had visited Dresden together, instead of engaging in a race to the disintegrating GDR that the German Chancellor eventually won with a one-day lead.
Both the French and the German governments made sure that their differences were concealed behind the rhetoric of friendship. A dangerous self-deception: formal consultations continued, substantial cooperation became weaker and weaker. Very late France and Germany decided – instead of fighting over the right strategy to escape the financial crisis of the Union – to develop a plan together that would combine strong impulses for economic growth with the necessary discipline in budget policies. Yet the proposal of two well-known economists from both countries was immediately rejected by their governments: We want to spend more, said the French, we want to invest less, said the Germans. Behind the diplomatic façade, conflicts prevail in French-German relations. Perhaps one should be philosophical and admit that this is the natural course of things. The routinization of charisma that Max Weber analyzed so convincingly also applies to the friendship between nations. Once it becomes routine, both in rhetoric and praxis, it can no longer fulfill its original task. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dramatic developments in Central and Eastern Europe, both France and Germany should have recognized that the raison d’être of bilateral relations cannot forever consist in the incantation of mutual praise. The continuous staring at themselves, the repli sur soi in which Jacques Delors saw a chronic European illness, has led to a paralysis in French-German relations. In addition the generation that had still experienced the hatred between the two countries is disappearing. For those French and German citizens who had fought each other in the war, friendship with the other was an unexpected gift and remained a miracle. For the generation of my children it is not much more than rhetoric and routine.
Today the cohesion of the European Union suffers as much from the weakness of France as from the unchecked power of Germany which seems able to impose its gospel of austerity as the only acceptable creed. No one, however, should have a greater interest in bringing France back on track than Germany. I do not have the impression that enough German politicians are aware of this. The danger has become obvious that Germany – a country that prefers teaching to learning – sees itself as the Praeceptor Europae and therefore also as the master of France.
In September 1994, when Germany held the presidency of the EU, Wolfgang Schäuble published his „Reflections on European Politics“ („Überlegungen zur europäischen Politik“). He described a dissent in the Union that jeopardized its inner coherence. One the one hand, there was, as he distinguished it, the South-West Group led by France that was prone to protectionism, and on the other hand, led by Germany, there was the North-East Group that believed in unlimited free trade under the auspices of globalization. For France and Germany, Schäuble continued, it was of primary concern to return to a coincidence of interests after the difference of interests had harmed bilateral relations for a considerable time. New political constellations had to be found. To characterize these new constellations, Schäuble invented the famous, some would say infamous, term „variable geometry“. Within the European Union, members should be allowed to form local coalitions and to pursue specific interests without being accused of thereby harming the cohesion of the Union as a whole. Accepting this „variable geometry“ had one crucial prerequisite: trust. Only if the members of the Union trusted each other could these specific coalitions fulfill a positive role within the Union. The concept of „variable geometry“ could also be seen as leading to political experiments: testing strategies and new ideas that the Union as a whole, i.e., the Brussels bureaucracy, would be too immobile to undertake.
Three years before Wolfgang Schäuble published his reflections, the idea of a „variable geometry“ had already been tested. Appropriately enough the initiative had chosen as its name a term from geometry: It was the „Weimar Triangle“. On August 28, 1991 – Goethe’s birthday – the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland met in Weimar and decided to create a so-called „trialogue“. It consisted in regular meetings of and consultations among the governments of the three countries involved. The Weimar Triangle had an important impact on what one might call symbol politics; unintentionally perhaps, it was also an attempt to overcome the North-South-conflict in the European Union that was looming on the horizon. After the construction of the Weimar Triangle, it was hardly imaginable that Poland’s accession to the Union could still be in jeopardy. The major political achievement of the Weimar Triangle was indeed the associated partnership of Poland and eight other countries from Central and Eastern Europe with the Union which became effective in 1994. This was the prerequisite for these countries to be admitted to the Union which later happened at different speeds. In the final accession negotiations, though, the Weimar Triangle no longer played a role. The Weimar Triangle gave no cause for enthusiasm anymore; in the EU it met with reservations against so-called exclusive alliances in which many saw a relic of the nation-state of the 19th century.
Added to this was something else: the feeling of triumph that spread with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakdown of communism in Central and Eastern Europe created the illusion that the confrontation between East and West was a thing of the past. „The End of History“ became the catchword of the day: arguably the whole world was moving towards democracy, the market, and the rule of law. There were no alternatives. Absorbed by the new North-South conflict, the tensions between East and West were repressed. And since without any doubt Russia, too, would follow the path just described, there was no hesitation to try to extend the EU and, if possible, NATO deep into the Russian sphere of influence. The results of this illusion are now painfully visible. It comes close to a political tragedy that the first substantial action of the Weimar Triangle after 1994 ended in a fiasco: in February of last year the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland negotiated a solution to the conflict in Ukraine that provided for the formation of a transitional government, constitutional reform and parliamentary as well as presidential elections. The compromise lasted only one night, before it was swept away by the masses on Maidan Square that could not be controlled anymore: President Janukowytsch fled to Russia and the new East-West- conflict deteriorated into a war without formal declaration in which Vladimir Putin eventually annexed Crimea and has not given up the attempt to create a so-called New Russia in the eastern provinces of Ukraine. This failure, however, should not prevent future joint initiatives by France, Germany, and Poland. On the contrary: the Weimar Triangle should play a crucial role in European politics, notably by proposing new solutions for the pressing problems in Europe. The challenge would consist in demonstrating that problem-solving procedures might profit from the engagement of a group of members whose own national interests clearly differ from one another. This might help in facilitating the building of a consensus throughout the whole European Union. The Union not only suffers from a financial crisis, it also suffers from a lack of confidence. To accept the idea of a “variable geometry” and tolerate, nay even welcome the building of small problem-solving coalitions in the EU across national boundaries would be a sign of rediscovered confidence.
I am nearing the end of my talk and I want to come back to the new North-South-conflict. Both the resurgence of this conflict and the fatal illusion that the East-West- conflict is over was triggered by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re-unification of Germany. Both conflicts share the same explosive character. It would be important to defuse at least one of them. Therefore I repeat a proposal, already made some years ago: to create a new Marshall Plan for the Mediterranean. I was motivated to make this proposal after having read, or rather re-read, a key text from the early phase of attempts at European integration that presented quite a surprise – not only for me, but also for almost anyone to whom I spoke about the passage that I am about to quote now.
The surprise is to be found in the government declaration the French Prime Minister made on May 9, 1950 and that was later called the “Schuman Plan”. Its core was the cooperation between France and Germany that made future wars impossible between the two countries because their economic interest would from now on become too interwoven. Bilateralism, however, declared Robert Schuman, could not be an end in itself. It had to serve European, – and not only European, interests. And then Schuman said, a European Community characterized by close cooperation between France and Germany, should – and now I quote verbatim – “use the jointly generated opportunities to realize one of its essential tasks, the development of the African continent”. With this, more was envisaged than traditional development aid. Envisaged was a strategic partnership between Europe and Africa. This has been totally forgotten and is more important today than ever before. With their plan to create a Mediterranean Union, Nicolas Sarkozy and Henri Guaino came too early. Husni Mubarak (– as co-President with Sarkozy – ), Muammar al-Gadaffi, and the Tunisian dictator Ben-Ali would have been members of the Union Méditerranéenne, a rather chilling idea! The Arab Spring, however, nurtured the project – for a short while before it turned into an Arab winter. I still believe that it is worthwhile to ponder the question whether a kind of Mediterranean Marshall Plan could not help to change the repair shop Europe into a laboratory for the future. I am envisaging a pact for future economic growth that would tie the South of Europe and, to start with, the North of Africa together and would become the first step on the way to the substantial African policy of the European Union that Robert Schuman envisaged as early as 1951. It’s just an idea and the longer one thinks about it the more it becomes obvious that we are talking about Utopia, especially when one dares to mention that the agrarian policy of the Union must be radically changed. Yet I should like to refute an argument that is as a rule brought forward in this context: “Money won’t be able to solve the problems we are facing!” In the first instance, the Marshall Plan was not about money, it was about cooperation. It was not development aid based on humanitarian motives. The important feature of the Marshall Plan was the decision to make the distribution of funds dependent upon the cooperation of the recipient countries: the countries of Western Europe, winners and losers of the Second World War had come to terms with each other in order to receive aid. This is how the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) was born, which paved the way for the political and economic growing together of Europe.
A politically and economically sustainable cooperation between the European and African countries of the Mediterranean – nothing but a dream, a Utopian Project? Maybe – but the European Union has now been preoccupied for quite a while in correcting the mistakes of the past. A courageous project like a Marshall Plan for the Mediterranean could give the Union a new impetus and strengthen its internal cohesion.
Both the new North-South- and the revived East-West- conflict are a consequence of the fall of the Berlin Wall and of German re-unification. The political goal, twenty-five years later, must be: the re-unification of Europe.
Wolf Lepenies is a sociologist and historian, and a Permanent Fellow (em.) at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He was the Rector of the Wissenschaftskolleg (1986–2001) and served as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton for several years. This article is based on the Monthly Lecture he gave at the IWM on January 15.
 Potemkin Review, 6 January 2015.
 Harold Meyerson, „Economically, Germany is a threat to itself“, in: Washington Post, October 15, 2014.