Phasing out a particular fuel source can prove tricky. The experiences of the United Kingdom with coal and Germany with nuclear power are harbingers of fuel exit debates to come.
Safeguarding its autonomy between the United States and China was already proving difficult for the EU. But as Washington and Brussels seem to be becoming more closely aligned on how to handle Beijing’s rise, Russia and China seem to be cooperating more closely, too.
To adapt its foreign policy to new challenges, Germany must overcome certain taboos inherited from its history.
The EU and the US are coming to the realization that China poses questions that neither can answer on their own.
Germany’s Greens have advocated for a more principled approach to Beijing for years. As they prepare for a return to power in a post-Merkel government, they are promising to reshape China policy.
China seeks to cement a multi-polar world order in which no other state can “interfere” with what it sees as “internal affairs.” Such a world would be incompatible with the EU’s values and political identity.
When it comes to climate policy, coal power and the EU’s proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism will likely cause friction within the EU-US-China triangle this year. But all sides have shown that they can work together.
In its dealings with Beijing, the United States has turned to classic grand strategy with the aim of safeguarding its primacy. In contrast, the EU has been pursuing a less consistent, but much more suitable multi-track approach. China’s latest actions may push the Europeans to full alignments with the US—which would be both momentous and dangerous.
No matter who succeeds Angela Merkel in the chancellery, Germany will need to focus on building stronger European strategic autonomy in order to be a strong and valued partner to the United States—and to other liberal democracies around the world.
A robust transatlantic agenda on China is required not in spite of, but because of the complex interdependencies that exist between the West and Beijing.
There are homegrown democrats in Russia who do not automatically sympathize with the West. They rarely make the headlines, but they could be instrumental in leading the country to change from the top.
Is a fair, healthy, climate-friendly world possible? Yes it is, but only if humanity learns lessons from the coronavirus pandemic.