Germany and the European Union: from ‘tamed power’ to normalized power?



    1. Professor of European Politics at the University of Sheffield.
    Search for more papers by this author

    1. Chairman of the German-British Forum, where he succeeded Lord Hurd of Westwell.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • We are grateful for comments at the refereeing stage and from Vladimir Handl, Sebastian Harnisch and Daniela Kietz. The usual disclaimer applies. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Conference of Europeanists, Montreal, 15–17 April 2010.


Germany has traditionally played a key role in promoting European Union solutions to domestic policy problems. In doing so it gained a reputation as a ‘tamed power’ (Katzenstein). This article reviews Germany's diplomacy two decades after unification. It explores the ‘tamed power’ hypothesis with reference to three policy areas: constitutional reform in the EU; Justice and Home Affairs policy; and an issue that has made German European policy very salient of late, the management of the Eurozone. The article argues that Germany has become a much less inclusive actor in European policy, pursuing policy solutions through ‘pioneer groups’ where these offer greater promise than the EU itself and becoming increasingly attentive to domestic political constraints. The article argues that Germany has become a normalized power, with significant implications for the EU.