Q: Traditionally, Germany has projected a sense of reluctance to the exercise of power – the image of the ‘unready hegemon’. By leading and shaping the future Commission, has Germany become ready to lead? Is this a change of historical paradigm? You were one of the voices that, in 2011, said “I fear Germany’s power less than her inactivity”.
A: The view that Germany has been reluctant to use its power is controversial. For example, some of our Polish nationalists refer to the European Union as the German Reich. Even government officials talk about Germany’s over-using its size in the European Union. My own take is that Germany is, of course, the largest shareholder in this business, but it doesn’t have a controlling stake. Germany has about 20%, and after the UK’s departure, Germany will have 25%, to France’s 16% and Poland’s 7%.