Do not fear the Germans

I am an optimist about Germany. I do not think the new Germany that arose from the ashes of 1945 has military ambitions. I do not think the countries of Europe need fear armed invasion. It is not just NATO and the overarching power of the USA that keeps the peace in western Europe. It is the fact that Germany is one of the many nations that is both democratic and peace loving. Germany has nothing to gain from war, nor do any of the other western states.

Nor is modern France an heir to the tradition of the Grand armee and Napoleon. The French may still be proud of their time as Europe’s most powerful and dangerous nation, but they have no wish nor intention to recreate those days. Their present armed forces are for expeditionary work for the UN and NATO, not a European land force for conquest.

So when people tell me we must hang tight to the EU to prevent future wars, I tell them they have misread the current situation. It is not the EU that gives us our current peace, but the change of approach by Europe’s most powerful and once most dangerous nations. The UK dropped her claims to France more than four hundred years ago.

Whenever I have negotiated in the EU for the UK, or more recently been at meetings seeking to hammer out agreements and understandings with MPs, Ministers and others from other European countries, I have been struck by how so many are secretly afraid of Germany, or reluctant to stand up to her. The UK should not be afraid of Germany, though there are times when the UK establishment seems a little cowed by Germany’s relative economic power. The UK, after all, will overtake Germany as the largest European economy in due course, if present population trends continue. Being Germany’s largest trading partner where they sell us so much more than we sell them should put us in the driving seat, as we are the customer more than the supplier.

The EU will be a better place if more negotiators relax about Germany and just regard her as one country amongst many. I am on Germany’s side when they say they should not be paying more of the EU bills. The quid pro quo for that, is Germany should not have a disproportionate say in how the EU evolves. It is high time the UK stood up for its view of what it wants – which is a relationship based on trade, not one shackled to the troubled currency and political union.

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  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    The “change of approach”is the very essence of the EU where countries fight it out at conference tables and come to agreements. Nato’s role was to protect against outside danger, not to provide any deterrent between say France and Germany. The problem is not so much to realise that Germany is “one country amongst many” but to realise that Britain is “one country amongst many”. As any other country, the UK may stand up for what it wants. If only it could make up its mind . . .

    Reply We do know what we want, and it does not entail being governed from Brussels.I do not accept that Germany outside the EU would go to war.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: I totally agree with you that Germany wouldn’t go to war if outside the EU, but deterioration in European relations might happen over the long term.
      So far no country wants to leave the EU, leaving aside small minorities in various countries.

      • Paul H
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        And of course there has been no deterioration over the last couple of years within the EU, especially between Germany and certain over countries …

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          @Paul H: I would really call extremely minor tensions, mainly good for the media to sell their stories

      • Sebastian Weetabix
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        How do you know? No one has been asked if they want to leave. Certainly there have been no plebiscites on he subject. Such an outbreak of direct democracy is not going to be allowed by our unelected masters in Brussels.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          @Sebastian Weetabix: Sorry but I thought we (the UK) were asked in 2010, there was simply no majority for an immediate ‘day-facto’ exit from the EU, the electorate though seem split on our existing membership status or a wish to negotiate a different status – one that might indeed eventually lead to a UK exit.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Either name some of these “unelected masters in Brussels” or admit you just made this up. Anyone elected or appointed by the UK’s Prime Minister doesn’t count.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            @U5: “Either name some of these “unelected masters in Brussels”

            Herman Van Rompuy [1] for starters, appointed in 2009, not elected. At the same time Lady Ashton, appointed was appointed, not elected, to the post of (and here I quote her full title) “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”. Even José Manuel Barroso [2] is not a directly elected.

            [1] President of the European Council

            [2] President of the European Commission

          • uanime5
            Posted June 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


            Herman Van Rompuy was elected by the members of the European Council, which includes the UK’s Prime Minister.

            Lady Ashton was elected by the European Council and was subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.

            José Manuel Barroso was proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament.

            So all three were elected, and both the UK’s Prime Minister and UK MEPs were involved. Hardly unelected masters.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

            U5: I’m glad that you have informed us as to what you believe democracy is all about!

            Why can’t the peoples of the EU, who these politicos are meant to serve, elect them? Some do not call the EU the “EUSSR” for no reason…

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            The whole of the European Commission is unelected.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          @Sebastian Weetabix and Jerry:
          I cannot know the outcome of referendums but I look at the support for political parties wanting to leave the EU.
          Jerry may not realise that Van Rompuy was elected, just not directly elected, and neither was Cameron or any of your prime-ministers.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

            @PvR: Yes, HvR was elected, by the old Soviet and current Chinese electoral methods…

            Now compare the EU’s way of electing their President with how the USA do it!

      • Jerry
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        @PvR: You are forgetting the fact that many of the countries making up the EU membership are also a part of the NATO, and that latter organisation causes far stronger relationships than a group merely based on trade – hence why some within the EU would like to see a formal combined EU military force, under the command of the EU I suspect…

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          In fact of the present 27 EU member states, these 21 became NATO members BEFORE they became EEC/EC/EU members:

          1949 Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, UK
          1952 Greece
          1955 West Germany (reunited Germany 1990)
          1982 Spain
          1999 Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland
          2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia

          These 4 were declared neutrals before they joined the EEC/EC/EU:

          Ireland, Austria, Sweden and Finland

          Malta had been in the “Non-Aligned Movement” since 1973 but left it in 2004; similarly Cyprus had joined that in 1961 but left in 2004, and is still argued over by two longstanding NATO members.

          Croatia, scheduled to join the EU on July 1st, joined NATO in 2009.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          @Jerry: Interesting to see you imply that your relationship with Turkey is so much stronger than with Finland or with France when it wasn’t part of Nato 🙂

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:21 am | Permalink

            PvR: I think you will find that France was always a member of NATO, it was just that they withdraw from the central command.

      • Freeborn John
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        The euro zone crisis shows that relations between European countries deteriorate due to too much EU integration & interference in one another’s affairs. Good fences make for good neighbours.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          @Freeborn John: interestingly, none of the Eurozone countries agrees with you.

      • Kenneth
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        We are seeing increasing evidence of bad feeling between German people and those of other eu countries, particularly those who share the Euro.

        Unless Germany unshackles itself (or other countries do) from this union, I do think that parts of Europe will become unstable in the long term.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          @Kenneth: Another prophesy in the series of predictions of EU blow-up en euro break-down. I’ll add it to my list.

      • libertarian
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Err Wrong again One country already left the EU in 1985

    • JimF
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Britain is “one country amongst many”.
      Do you accept that we have a fundamentally different culture to mainland Europe?
      In one sense we are all European, but in another UK is an island race, with a more individualistic, stand-alone mentality. Had we not been, 1939- would have been a different story in continental Europe. So don’t knock it – allow us to have our say about where we should be… on this occasion we aren’t declaring war to get you guys sorted out, but just watching from the sidelines giving advice as your economies and single currency ideas implode. We might just be there at the end to pick up the pieces (again), but not if you try to drag us down with you.

      • uanime5
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        While the UK’s culture is different to the cultures of France and Spain it is far more similar to other European countries that the cultures in Brazil, India, or China.

        • APL
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          uanime5: “it is far more similar to other European countries that the cultures in Brazil, India, or China.”

          Irrelevant. It really isn’t about culture, but rather a desire to make a profit – that’s what drives trade.

          But if we can trade with France & Spain – and holiday there, despite or indeed because of the difference in culture, we can trade with Brazil, India and China: but without the dead hand of European Union bureaucracy

          • uanime5
            Posted June 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

            The quest was about whether the UK had a different culture to mainland Europe. I pointed out that it was different but that we are more similar to mainland Europe than we our to other cultures.

            Also just because the UK can trade with other countries without the EU doesn’t mean we will be able to trade on the same terms. As the EU has a larger GDP and population than the UK it enables the UK to have greater access to these countries.

          • APL
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

            uanime5: “I pointed out that it was different but that we are more similar to mainland Europe than we our to other cultures.”

            OK. But it really isn’t pertinent. Trade is about turning a profit, culture may be an enjoyable side show or an impediment to business, but it isn’t the central reason for trade.

            uanime5: “As the EU has a larger GDP and population than the UK”

            The UK may be slipping down the league tables for such things, but we are still the eighth largest economy in the world. If the EU – UK ( which would put the EU in second place after the US ) doesn’t want to trade with the eighth largest economy, we can trade elsewhere.

            As to terms, we’ll be able to negotiate our own terms.

    • Acorn
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right. JR, you are sounding more like Basil Fawlty everyday. Did the Germans form the Forth Reich while I was in bed; or, is the conservative party just thinking how things could have been so different now; “Peace for our time” as Chamberlain said about his Munich Agreement. I wonder how he would have got on re-negotiating our membership of the EU?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink


      Maybe you’ve forgotten about the Brussels Treaty which your government was glad to agree with the governments of the UK, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg in March 1948, the text of which is available on the NATO website:

      The preamble to that treaty specifically said:

      “To take such steps as may be held to be necessary in the event of a renewal by Germany of a policy of aggression”.

      While under Article VI it was agreed:

      “If any of the High Contracting Parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other High Contracting Parties will, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, afford the Party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power.”

      Adumbrating Article 5 in the NATO treaty signed a year later:

      “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all … ”

      And as Article VIII of the 1948 treaty started:

      “In pursuance of their determination to settle disputes only by peaceful means, the High Contracting Parties will apply to disputes between themselves the following provisions … ”

      I think we can safely say that the idea that countries in Europe should “fight it out at conference tables” rather than on battlefields was pretty firmly established long before extremists decided that this was not enough and that all those countries must be legally subordinated, subjugated, in a pan-European federation.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 2, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper, I apologise for a late and brief response as I’m assisting in a house removal in Paris, a place which to the non-islandic – schengen – euro – multilingual Dutch doesn’t feel like ” abroad” anymore (no passport, no foreign currency). Features not brought about by Nato but by the EU. A military organisation is about (preventing) war, not the same as forging peace. Yes the spirit of not going to war again preceded the genius of combining steel and coal under a supranational authority, but what does that prove? For a pointer to the purpose of Nato look at the direction in which the rockets point. As I stated earlier, no deterrent to protect France from Germany. When a country like Spain joined Nato, it wasn’t to protect it from France either, but to join an aliance to deend against perceived threats from outside. Finally, achieving a closer union between the peoples of Europe is a very longterm process, maybe the EU tends to be too much in a hurry, but it is about forging lasting peace.
        IN spite of all the crisis and current tensions, that is what we’re witnessing longterm.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          Of course country A wouldn’t normally point its rockets at country B even if the two of them were just in a sincere mutual defence pact, let alone if both of them were in a wider collective defence pact with other countries C, D, E etc.

          Because if country A did go off the rails, for whatever reasons, and it launched an armed attack on country B, then the latter would be the object of an armed attack under the terms of the treaty just as much as if the attack had come from country Z outside the pact.

          And under either Article VI of the 1948 Brussels Treaty or Article 6 of the 1949 NATO treaty the aggressor country A would immediately be up against not just its target country B but all the other members of the pact, including in the case of NATO the USA.

          Ask which treaties were indispensable for the purpose of securing peace in post-war Europe, and the answer is obvious to all but the most star-struck admirers of the EEC/EC/EU project.

          The 1948 Brussels Treaty and the subsequent 1949 NATO treaty, being above all military treaties, were not only indispensable for the prevention of war between their signatory states but were also indispensable as precursors for the 1957 Rome Treaty, a treaty dealing with civilian matters and made between six countries which were already members of the NATO military pact.

          I find it hard to understand how anyone knowing which came first could still bring themselves to imagine that it was the other way round.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: I grant you the role of these earlier treaties, but we should not lose sight of Nato’s role, which was/is an alliance against outside threats. Luckily, in spite of eurosceptic efforts to deny the EU role in actually forging peace, democracy and human rights (it was and is still a magnet for aspirant countries to improve their societies in this direction) it has been well acknowledged by these few Norwegians.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

            Peter, let me ask you a hypothetical question –

            If it was just after the war and you earnestly wished to make some treaty arrangement to try to avoid another war in Europe, but like many other things treaties were on ration, which of these two treaties would you choose to have?

            1. A military treaty under which all the parties eschewed war as a means of settling their disputes and moreover agreed to defend each other in the event of any armed attack, whether from outside the pact or from a renegade member of the pact not being specified.

            2. A civilian treaty on a customs union and a common market.

            The answer was fairly obvious to people at the time, which is why the Brussels Treaty and then the NATO treaty preceded the Rome Treaty; and arguably the Rome Treaty between the original six countries did not even become possible until one of them, Germany, had been admitted to NATO.

            Or, an alternative hypothetical question –

            If either the NATO treaty or the present EU treaties had to be cancelled, which would you think was most important to keep in order to prevent a recurrence of war in Europe?

            I know which I would prefer to keep: and as the subject of this article is Germany, it would concern me far more if Germany announced that it was leaving NATO but staying in the EU, than if it announced that it was leaving the EU but staying in NATO.

        • APL
          Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          PvL: “(no passport, no foreign currency)”

          A small but significant point, Peter. I believe both Dutch and French are obliged to carry identity cards? When you are owned by your government and are obliged to identify yourself to it. A passport is only of use when you leave its jurisdiction.

          Your single currency can be identified by its country of origin, one reason many Greeks who could, opened accounts in other parts of the EU most often Germany.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            @AP L: my driving license provides sufficient proof of identity and I carry it anyway. A train conductor may check my train ticket, etc. But I don’t notice going “abroad” on much of the continent and always when going to Britain! Ironnically a lot of my family lives in Britain. A euro (look e.g. at the new €5 note, carries the signature of the ECB which guarantees its value. I never check a euro’s origin and usually wouldn’t know (one letter difference on the paper money)

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    How far does population equal economic power?

    • outsider
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      A clever question Mike, which should give any Saudi or Qatari citizen a chuckle. Population alone gives Germany more economic power than the closely comparable Netherlands but I agree with your implied caveat to Mr Redwood’s otherwise sensible post.
      A higher population would not make the UK economy stronger than Germany’s if the UK economy was anything like today. And postwar financial history shows time and again that a country with a trade surplus is in a more powerful position than a “customer” with a chronic deficit.
      Economic power also depends on the framework in which it is asserted. Global trade under WTO rules gives the strong more power. Free movement of capital gives even more power; so does operating in a single market protected against others. But operating in a single currency (or reserve currency) gives the most power.
      The UK would therefore have less economic power within the EU than Germany even if its GDP were bigger, because German economic power dominates the eurozone, most of whose other members have already become client states. Most of us, thankfully, do not want such power over our neighbours.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      It depends upon how much money the average person has. A country with a huge population but where the average person earns £200 per year doesn’t have as much economic power as a country with half the population but with three times the average wage.

    • Jon
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Lets not forget demographics, much of Western Europe is an aged population which needs care and pension funding which costs along with being less productive. High immigration can help that balance but as we have seen it has its own costs when not planned for. Western Europe has developed a high benefits culture which with an increasing unproductive aged population mitigates the growth seen in developing countries with out that and currently a shorter life span.

  3. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Why do war upon other nations when you can get what you want by economic and political dominance? It was a German who said, “War is a continuation of politics by other means”. Von Clausewitz was prescient.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I agree fully with your reading of the situation.

    The current EU/EURO structures and ill conceived political direction, that are causing 40% youth unemployment in Italy, 50% in Spain nearly 60% in Greece, 27% France, are hardly a good think for political and civil stability.

    • Bazman
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      How about the 22% youth unemployment in this country? Don’t wheel out you high tax/spend with to many regulation chant on this one. As certain area have high unemployment due to factors such as geography and tax breaks for certain areas would in effect be instead of benefits and tax breaks across the country would not change the situation and could make it worse.

      Maybe they are all just bone idle or non of this is true the deniers and fantasists will tell us. Young East Europeans find work. This should also apply to the rest of Europe too then.

      • Jon
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        You mean like the high energy tax is giving jobs to the East. The high regulation in financial services is giving jobs to all and sundry outside of Europe. The Financial Transaction Tax will give a shed load of jobs to New York and decimate many here as investment leaves. The fuel tax gave loads of jobs to French hauliers, the 45% tax gave many a country new businesses that we used to have.

        • Bazman
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          Germans just compete in race to the bottom and who can have the lowest taxes do they? The high regulation of the financial industry in London? Dream on and you seriously think than low energy costs are the reason for manufacturing heading east? Low wages and no health and safety are the main reasons.Do tell us why foreign coal is so cheap? Is it because of their state of the art pits and high efficiency? No taxation. The usual resort of right wing dead heads. Ram it.

    • Gary
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Would you prefer they printed money to create zombie companies hooked up to the state and financial engineering firms living off the proceeds of QE, like we do?

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Having foreign government foisted on nations without the express consent of their people is more likely to lead to violence and war than nation states freely trading with each other under their own self-governance. The members of NAFTA see no need to have ever closer political union to enable them to trade together or prevent war between them.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      That’s what bothers me too Brian, and I concur. It wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if the EU had actually brought prosperity.

      Politicians are often detached from the vehemence and acrimony felt by the ordinary citizen who is having to pay the price for this EU orchestrated mess, but we on this side of the fence, outside of the Westminster bubble see it all the time. And when we want somebody to blame, it is only right that we then turn our focus and anger upon the chief protagonists of the whole disastrous EU experiment.

      Even Germany’s own people are unhappy about the present situation, and it will be interesting to see if Frau Merkel is re-elected.

      In this country, alternative governments have just merely given us more of the same pro-EU nonsense, but thankfully, we now have an alternative that is building in credibility as each day passes. It is now up to the other three main parties to amend their stance to encompass popular disaffection, and provide a remedy for it, or fall by the wayside. It’s a pity their respective leaders haven’t yet begun to appreciate the magnitude of anti-EU feeling which itself is growing as each day passes.

      I am afraid the BBC does a poor job in telling the British public about the demonstrations and near riots in some places, at the social devastation the EU has brought to other parts of Europe, and regrettably, one has to source their news elsewhere to get a better picture. Otherwise, I suspect we’d see more unrest here in the UK too, if our own people could see common cause.

      The bottom line is, Britain’s relationship with the EU needs to change, regardless of Germany’s role in it, for that is the single most vital issue we presently face, as everything else is secondary to it. Although Mr Cameron seems to acknowledge that fact, he seems most reluctant to give us any clues as to what any new relationship might look like. One can only assume then, we’re in for another classic EU fudge, and that consummate caveat politician is about to snow-blind us once again.

      Tad Davison


    • uanime5
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      NAFTA allows greater mobility of persons, which has enabled many Mexicans to work in the USA. It has also lead to Maquiladoras (American factories that moved to Mexico due to the cheap labour).

  6. Jerry
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Indeed John, and this fear of Germany (what she has done and what she might do) is present in so many anti EU comments both here on your blogs and elsewhere, what is more one of our historic problems with Germany is not because we are so dissimilar but because we are very much alike – except that the British are more lazy, there is a reason why all the prime beach chairs have German towels on them by 7am!…

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      The attitudes and actions of the German elite not only cause increasing resentment in other countries, not just in the UK of course, but also cause increasing concern for some Germans outside the elite.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Denis Cooper: But are those attitudes, actions and resentments caused by “Germany” or the effect of being within the bureaucratic EU?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          They are the attitudes and actions of the German elite for which the German elite must be held responsible; they have their origins in the earlier history of the German state as much as in modern times; the resentments aroused in other countries are amplified through the design and operation of the EU and particularly the eurozone, for which the German elite also has a large share of responsibility.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 2, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

            Denis Cooper: With respect that is just rehashed anti German nonsense, what people do not like about Germany is very simply, they are (and have always been) a very successful country, and I don’t mean militarily, in business and engineering etc. they are hard to beat.

            If the UK had the German socail, work and business ethics of Germany we could also be very successful – my quip about beach towels wasn’t added just for laughs, nothing “elitist” about their success at all, just dammed hard work and knowing when to work and when to party…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink


            You ask me a question, I give you an answer, and then you apply your personal prejudices to re-interpret it and tell me what you think I really meant.

            Or are you telepathic?

          • Edward2
            Posted June 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

            Indeed Denis, you have summed it up perfectly.
            Jerry’s normal method is to respond with “so you are saying….” and then continue with pedantic comments and conclusions that have no connection with what you have originally said.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

            @Denis: I was rejecting your notion that the Germans are elitists, the fact that you believe this is showing your personal prejudices, not mine. Oh and you asked me the question, and then object when I answer…

            If any nation and its population have been elitist during the last 100 or so years it has been the UK, what with their Empire, after all we all know that if you SHOUT loud enough the natives will understand the English language.

            @Edward2: Still smarting I guess…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

            All countries have their elites, Jerry, even those which claim to egalitarian; Germany is no more an exception to that rule than we are; on the other hand I said nothing which would suggest to an unprejudiced reader that I thought the Germans to be especially “elitist”, another figment of your imagination; and it is hardly anti-German to refer to the German elite in contradistinction to the mass of ordinary Germans, “Germans outside the elite” as I put it in my first comment.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

            So Jerry how is the one post per day requirement affecting you?

          • APL
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            Edward: “Jerry’s normal method is to respond with “so you are saying….” and then continue with pedantic comments and conclusions …”

            Yes, a specialist in setting up ‘straw men’ then knocking them down.

  7. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I think it might have been England not the UK that gave up its claim to France. And I for one think that there is more chance of a European War with rather than without the wretched EU which is causing untold grief for so many. I agree that any such war is unlikely to arise from Germany or France wanting hegemony.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      It seems that it was the UK, but only around 1800, George III.

      Treaty of Amiens, 1802:

      “Under the treaty, the United Kingdom (UK) recognised the French Republic; the British parliament had only two years previously dropped England’s historical claim to the now-defunct French Kingdom.”

  8. sjb
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen.” – Enoch Powell

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      “Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.” he could have added “but do not start pointless, counter productive and terrorist incubating wars like Tony Blairs’.

      Especially not on the basis a lie. How is the Chilcot Inquiry coming on? Are they doing it all in long hand with quills perhaps?

  9. ian wragg
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Good article in todays Telegraph set in 2043 in a mini ice age.
    Many a true word……..

  10. Kenneth
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t think we should fear Germany and Germans but I do think we should emulate them in some ways.

    Germany has no national minimum wage and this allows a much more flexible pay structure which keeps youngsters in a job.

    If only other European countries could be this kind to their citizens instead of forcibly pricing them out of work.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      The half of the board of directors in Germany companies is made up of union representatives to ensure that wages are fair. Germany companies with 5 or more employees also have to have workers councils to ensure employees are being treated fairly.

      You can’t just emulate the parts you like while ignoring the parts you don’t.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        ‘You can’t just emulate the parts you like while ignoring the parts you don’t.’

        Tell me why not? What would be wrong with British buisnesses adopting policies and practices that work well elsewhere, but without the interference ir the diktat of the EU?

        Must we be chained to the EU and be regulated by them, when our own democratically elected parliament could give us the same thing?

        Or are socialists too scared to let the British people have their say, and their way, and see the EU as the only way to achieve their dubious ends?

        • uanime5
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          Try reading what I actually wrote.

          I stated that if the UK copies all the things from another country that gives employees less rights while ignoring all the advantages these employees have to offset these lack of rights then the result will be a disaster. This has nothing to do with the EU, it’s basic logic.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        “You can’t just emulate the parts you like while ignoring the parts you don’t.”

        Of course you can that is the sensible thing to do in most situations.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          Given that trying to change a successful system usually results in this system no longer working it’s clearly not sensible to remove all the employee protections yet assume that your employees won’t leave because of this.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted June 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        None of the four Federalist treaties – Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon has in any way enhanced business and trade, so why not just scrap them all? At the very least repeal our Acts of Accession to them, which can be done without a Referendum.

        As Enoch Powell put it: “You do not have to share someone’s bath water to have a trade agreement with them.”

  11. waramess
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws” — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild.

    By the Euro nations ceding control of their money supply to the ECB, the Germans have effectively achieved the Rothschild wish. We should not fear the military might of Germany but we should be in great fear of its fiscal and monetary supremacy and how it might decide to use that power to its own advantage in the future.

  12. Bazman
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    How does Germany mange to be such an economic powerhouse with so many regulations, taxes and uncontrolled immigration. Uncontrolled? How can you stop them they just have to walk across the borders?

  13. Martin
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    If you want more power and influence then Mr Micawber’s dictum applies as ever. If you think that being a debtor is good just remember that any foreign government could dump all Britain’s sterling IOUs and cause the Pound to free fall. (e.g. Suez and the USA).

  14. Richard1
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    England gave up Calais under Queen Mary in the 1550s, but I believe Queen Victoria was crowned Queen of France in 1838….no wonder they don’t trust us.

    I think the EU has played a role in the ending of communism & therefore in keeping the peace by existing as a club of democratic nations with more or less free market systems at a time of communist repression in eastern Europe. eastern Europeans from the communist era do cite aspiration to join the EU (and in some cases NATO) as an inspiration for resistance to Soviet communist tyranny.

    But that’s not the same thing as supporting the EU’s statist meddling and centralizing ambition now the world has changed.

  15. APL
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Germany is the least likely to cause trouble. Germany has a reasonable economy – it will be adversely impacted by the global downturn. Germany has a decent government debt, very favorable by comparison to France or the UK.

    France by comparison spends in excess of 50% of it’s GDP in the public sector, the French government has promised to lower the retirement age and a number of other measures that will make its ledger much worse.

    The UK has a government that is hoping to get by on a wing and a prayer; making noises about reducing the deficit but all the while increasing government borrowing.

    Germany is the least likely to have problems, France and the UK not so much.

  16. Electro-Kevin
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    And they accuse Eurosceptics of xenophobia ?

  17. John Wrake
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    It is not a militaristic Germany which is the danger that the continent faces. The danger is the desire to control. Whether that desire has its roots in an economically powerful Germany wanting to control events, or in a Socialist ideal shared by others in the European Union driving the agenda, is a matter for debate perhaps, but it is clear that unfettered control, from whatever source, will bring the disaster which no sensible person wants.

    Some will suggest that the desire to control comes from the proponents of World Government, from the Bilderberg Group, from multinational business or money-men. Whatever the source, the exercise of unregulated power is always a preliminary to human misery on the grand scale.

    Given the openly published aims of the European Union and the unaccountable methods which it has consistently used to further those aims, it remains a ‘clear and present danger’
    to us and the world at large.

    Our membership was obtained fraudulently and contrary to our historic Constitution. While we continue in membership, we continue to contribute to our own destruction. It is time to return this country to the Rule of Law.

    John Wrake

  18. Peter Stroud
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I certainly do not fear a war between EU states. However, I do worry that if the economic decline of some states in Euroland, and unelected interference by Brussels continue , then there will be increasing breakdown in law and order. And this could lead to a rise in extreme politics, both ultra nationalistic fascism or a revival of communism. Then who knows if the larger and more prosperous states such as Germany and France might feel it necessary to intervene? Purely, of course, to defend the stability of Euroland.

  19. MickC
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Germany is the most economically powerful nation in Europe, and has been for a long time (probably since its creation).

    All power is fundamentally economic power-it may need to be protected or projected by military means (Monroe Doctrine as an example of the first, British Empire for the second)-but the economic strength is the key.

    That being the case, obviously Germany must perforce be treated with some caution. Let us not forget, it was Germany’s premature recognition of one of the regions of Yugoslavia which advanced the dissolution of that state. That recognition was presumably to create a client and friendly state for Germany-not for altruistic reasons.

    So, no Germany at present constitutes no military threat-but economic power frequently leads to disputes with the less well off.

  20. Pleb
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    If something is not done about the EU youth unemployment then the elite might be facing a rebellion from its own plebs.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      The UK’s own youth unemployment may cause similar problems. Especially as benefit cuts continue to bite.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Benefit and tax cuts will get them into work and make that less likely not more.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          The current bedroom tax hasn’t encourages anyone who is unemployed to get a job, so it’s farcical to claim that more benefit cuts will magically create 2.52 million jobs for the unemployed.

  21. uanime5
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I have negotiated in the EU for the UK, or more recently been at meetings seeking to hammer out agreements and understandings with MPs, Ministers and others from other European countries, I have been struck by how so many are secretly afraid of Germany, or reluctant to stand up to her.

    Well given that Germany is one of the few EU countries that has a fiscal surplus, rather than a deficit, it’s no wonder that most politicians don’t want to be seen as opposing something proposed by a successful country. Were the UK to eliminate our own deficit and obtain surplus by manufacturing things that other countries wanted to buy I have no doubt that most other EU countries would be more willing to listen to us.

    The UK, after all, will overtake Germany as the largest European economy in due course, if present population trends continue.

    Germany has a population of 80 million and a GDP of $3.6 trillion. By contrast the UK has a GDP of $2.4 trillion and a population of 63 million, so it will take some time for the UK to reach a population level similar to Germany. Also unless the UK can increase its UK’s GDP per capita to Germany’s levels the UK market will not be as valuable as the Germany one even if it’s slightly larger (levels of disposable income are important).

    Being Germany’s largest trading partner where they sell us so much more than we sell them should put us in the driving seat, as we are the customer more than the supplier.

    Unless the UK can buy what we currently buy from Germany elsewhere at a similar price we are going to remain in the passenger seat, just like all customers who have little choice regarding where they buy things.

  22. Wireworm
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    As others have said, the problem is not really militarism or conflict between states. It is rather the widely held German belief that everybody would be better off in every way if they could only be like them. We find it difficult to empathise with this because we tend intellectually to grant other societies the right to be how they want to be. The insidious thing about the German belief is its quasi-altruistic quality. How far this belief will be taken within a German-dominated EU and what the effects will be are difficult to predict. What can be foreseen are breakdowns in mutual comprehension and, when the loyalty of the elites to the project is tested, some banging of Peter van Leeuwen’s conference tables. Ultimately the EU cannot be held together by force, for which fact we should at least be grateful.

  23. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    It isn’t the physical war that many fear ;it is rather the monetary power .You have to admit that individual nations want strength through business etc and this is the way peace loving nations now fight. The game of chess is chequered with deception.

  24. Normandee
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    See what I mean about censorship and penalising free thought, and don’t say it was “off topic”. Neither was anything I said defamatory or untrue, it is as usual uncomfortable.

  25. Jon
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    The pro EU people peddle the nonsense that without the EU Germany and France would be invading. I would like to think not many of the public believe that propaganda but I don’t know.

    The media, TV etc has meant that should a rogue party start shooting the opposition to get into power in Germany for instance and was completely extreme they would be locked up. Back in the 1920’s and 30’s a lot could go on without the public finding out about it. They could brainwash an entire nation, these days its not just the traditional media that would prevent that single message going out but also social media. The media and technology has driven a lot of peace not the EU.

    I would like to think most of the population are not that naive to believe that propaganda. It would be like believing that the BNP could force its way into power at gun point, take over the networks and be able to succeed before any knowledge of it reached the public or the police and army. Times are different these days and thats not going to happen and its not because of the EU but because of better communication and education along with many other things in a secular society.

  26. Mark B
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink


    I believe that the most powerful nations of the 21st Century will not be those with a large military or nuclear weapons stockpile, but the ones with the most diverse and dynamic economy, coupled with a cash surplus. One only has to look too China and what they are doing in Africa to see an example of what I mean.

    Germany, or more to the point Mrs. Merkel, has already used her power on the European Political Stage. Remember what she did to Silvio Berlusconi. One quick call to the ECB and the Italian President and, poof, he was gone ! And not a Panzer in sight. And the same could also be said of poor Greece and her Prime Minister. “Don’t do things our way, and we will stop buying your debt, and you will go bust.”

    The problem for the Germans’ is the Euro. Or more to the point, the Euro and the PIIGS. Here in the UK, England, Scotland and the other members of our little union all use Sterling. We have political, fiscal and financial union. This allows the Bank of England to arrange cash transfers to less well-off parts of the country. I do not believe that the German political class want this, well not at this stage. It would mean that she will have to transfer her wealth too other nations. Nations with a very dubious record of spending monies well.

    For the Euro to survive, the 17 member Euro-zone states must move to full UNION. That will most certainly mean a new treaty. Labour will probably be in power by then and, I think they will be pressured by Merkel to join the Euro. This will most certainly mean that by 2020 we may have a referendum on joining the Euro.

    The issue of trade is a complex one. We are one of Germany’s major trading partners. But who’s money is it we are using to buy all those nice German things ? For Greece, it was French and German money, and Greece mostly used that money to buy French and German products and services. It was Germany remember, that supported the Greek application to join the Euro, even though everyone knew she could not meet the strict criteria for joining.

    The EEC/EC/EU is a old idea. It was dreamed up by people (Jean Monnet) who were born in the late 19th Century and lived most of the lives in the early 20th Century. In that time they saw many terrible things. Two wars, civil wars, famine, revolution, plague (Spanish Flu), fall of Empires and economic depression. All in a space of some 50 years. They believed that a Europe united politically, especially between the two main continental protagonists, Germany and France would bring peace. So far its has. But let us bring ourselves as to why the UK is in this ‘club of nations’. Why? Even French President Charles De Gaulle recognised that we were incompatible with what they wanted to do. Our legal system for one was very different. We were not and never really have been an European Continental nation with a continental outlook.

    We have never understood, or accepted our membership of this ‘club of nations’. It is time that we recognised this and that our membership is not in our, or for that matter in the interests of the other nations for us to remain.

    To remain, will result in our nation being transformed beyond all recognition and the total subsuming and subjugation to a supranational federal state.

    That is NOT what we were offered and it something that I REFUSE to accept !!

    • uanime5
      Posted June 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      The prime minister of Greece was removed in exchange for a bailout, the prime minister of Italy was removed so that Italy wouldn’t need a bailout. You’ve also ignored that Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Cyprus didn’t need to change their prime ministers if exchange for a bailout or financial help.

      I also wouldn’t say that people in London are happy transferring money to any other region.

      • Mark B
        Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        The Prime Minsters’ of Italy and Greece were removed because they stood up for their countries against the Troika and the colleagues. German, British and especially French Banks stood to lose large amounts of money as a result of Greece or Italy defaulting.

        Either way, they were REMOVED, as you so kindly put it. The people, the ones you like to champion, never got a say. And in the case of Italy, they got an unelected Technocrat (Monti). Is that what you want for the future of the EU ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 3, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      You have to remember that at present there are 17 countries in the eurozone, but legally that number must increase to at least (N -2) where N is the number of EU member states, which could end up being around 40; and you have to remember that the coalition government rejected suggestions that the European Union Act 2011 should be entrenched against normal repeal by a future Parliament, so there is no certainty that a future government of whichever party or parties would hold a referendum on whether we should join the euro.

      • Mark B
        Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I know. We have never been asked anything about our membership of the EEC/EC/EU. Unless of course the result is a sure-fire thing.

        That is one of the reasons why we have so much immigration. Its to reduce the dissenting voices so that when the time comes, and should they which to hold a referendum, the ‘right result’ can be assured.

        Also, Germans’ were never given a referendum. Something to do with it being unconstitutional – I think.

  27. Peter Davies
    Posted June 2, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I agree, the Germans are ok, they are not warlike – their current generation are more inclined to be industrialists plus with the added dimension of NATO, nuclear weapons and an aging population make any repeat of the 20th century wars unlikely from their perspective.

    It is important to remember that WW1 had its roots in colonial ambitions, something that European states so longer strive for (apart from within) and WW2 had its roots in the severe poverty and extreme National Politics caused by the effect of the Armistice which was looking for someone to blame.

    We in the UK have more in common with them than most of the southern parts of the EU. The EURO many would argue has guarded against market fluctuations in exchange rates but has led many countries to severe unrest and financial hardship which are the type of patterns that often lead to revolutions and war – I wish politicians at the European level would get it in their heads that their integration actions have led to the situation many in the EZ now find themselves in and accept that there needs to be far looser ties including a return to national currencies.

    I find it strange having personally experienced the Balkans that artificially stitching countries together will at some point lead to huge civil unrest and a breakup. The EU is in my view a macrocosm of the former Yugoslavia – I find it even stranger that Serbia and Croatia want to integrate themselves into this structure having fought so hard for freedom – total madness!

    The only way I can see the whole EU project being sustainable and acceptable to all is it being scaled back to an EFTA/NAFTA type structure without political interference and flexible options to co operate via treaties where nations so wish.

    Good neighbours are what prevents wars and not the centralist socialist dictatorship structure we see now. Anyone who argues on this blog that EU is ruled by consent need to consider what that means – consent to me is any major changes are put to a referendum in each member state – we know that this may have happened in some cases, we also know that where they have failed they find another loophole to circumnavigate treaty change requirements – behaving this way will simply lead to trouble in the long run.

  28. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 2, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    While being content with most of what you say about Germany, one point does hit a sore spot. You say “The UK, after all, will overtake Germany as the largest European economy in due course, if present population trends continue”.

    There seems to be an widening acceptance that the UK population will continue to grow at current trends, predicted to reach 70million. That may be the trend, but I do not think that trend is good for the UK. I think we are already overcrowded, and adding 10% to the population will make things worse, and with it bring many adverse consequences.

    It seems to me there are those who think that increasing the population is an easy way of achieving growth. But this is a false picture as what counts for the citizens is not total growth but growth per person. I have said this before but it bears repeating; the growth figures we should be most interested in is population size adjusted growth.

  29. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 2, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t fear Germany starting another war.

    I don’t fear an invasion by Martians either.

    Both are equally unlikely. Are the Germans never to be allowed to put it behind them? What on earth is the context for this article? Have they threatened to do it again?

    Reply The context is the endless repetition of the argument that we need to stay in the EU because it stops European wars

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply. But ‘their’ argument that we need to stay in the EU to stop European wars is such patent nonsense that arguing against it gives it credibility.

      It is such a daft argument it really isn’t worth listing why it is a daft argument.

  30. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    There is a lovely quote from Lord Kalms, former CEO of Dixons, in the 2nd June edition of the Sunday Telegraph Business section, about our promised renegotiations with the EU. Lord Kalms did a lot of deals in his time.

    “We can’t wait until after 2015 to outline our red lines for the renegotiations ……..

    At this crucial juncture, when the eurozone is still in crisis and EU institutions are publishing plans for further integration, there is no better time for the Prime Minister to put some meat on the bones of his vision for Britain’s relationship with the EU. I’m tired of hearing that we harm our position by showing our hand in advance. When you want to do a deal, you go in and set out your terms, you don’t meekly declare an interest and then stay schtum for four years.”

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    As for the subject of Mr Redwood’s post, I do not fear the Germans or most other nations if we have a strong enough navy and air force to prevent invasion.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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