The European Union has been in its biggest ever crisis since the onset of the Greek sovereign debt crisis in 2010. Beyond the political and economic dimensions, the crisis has also sparked discussions about Germany's European identity. Some scholars have argued that Germany's behavior in the crisis signals a continuation of the process of “normalization” of its European identity toward a stronger articulation of national identity and interests, that it has “fallen out of love” with Europe. This article will seek to reassess these claims, drawing on detailed analysis of political and media discourse in Germany—from political speeches through to both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. It will argue that the crisis is understood broadly as a European crisis in Germany, where the original values of European integration are at stake. Furthermore, the crisis is debated through the lens of European solidarity, albeit with a particular German flavor of solidarity that draws on the economic tradition of ordoliberalism. Rather than strengthening expressions of national identity, this has resulted in the emergence of a new northern European identity in contrast to Greece or “southern Europe.”
Irish National Identity and Germany as a “Significant Other” during the Euro Crisis
This article examines perceptions of Germany in Ireland during the Euro crisis. It explores debates about a “normalization” of Germany's role in Europe and its European identity, calling for a focus on external perceptions of Germany as key to understanding the extent to which Germany is viewed as “normal” from the outside. Through a presentation of findings from qualitative analysis of political speeches and newspaper articles, it shows that perceptions of Germany are filtered through discourses on Irish national identity that place Irish economic interests and national sovereignty at the heart of Irish engagement in the EU. Whereas Irish leaders argue in favor of further integration as a means to regain economic sovereignty, opposition actors and the conservative press see Germany as exercising economic control of Europe. The Irish case demonstrates that Germany's past continues to shape the way in which its leadership in Europe is perceived from the outside.