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Impact of the European Union on Germany

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: European Studies
Wordcount: 2699 words Published: 7th Dec 2020

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The overall impact of the European Union on Germany has been very positive. Especially when compared to other countries in the EU, Germany has benefited in more ways than one and has gained the most in all aspects, particularly economically. In terms of politics, the EU has aided Germany in creating a peaceful democracy, vastly different from its government during World War II. Culturally, the EU's policies have been reflected brilliantly throughout Germany with countless initiatives and policies in place to promote equality and diversity. Germany has progressed immensely from a social standpoint, with advancements in research and development, education and environmental policy.


The origins of the European Union date back to the Second World War in the early 1950’s when the European Coal and Steel Community was formed. Uniting six countries; West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg, in an attempt to promote peace and democracy, putting an end to the wars between neighbouring nations. It wasn’t until the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, that the European Union had the strongest impact on Germany.

During the Cold War, the six Western European states of the adopted the Treaty of Rome in 1957 to establish a common European market known as the European Economic Community (EEC). By 1991, the EEC has twelve member states, and they each signed The Maastricht Treaty. This treaty officially created the European Union.

From an economic point of view, Germany currently has the largest economy in the EU with a GDP of 3.997 trillion USD (2019) (The World Bank Group, 2019), without the EU, Germany would not be the pioneer it is today.The social and cultural implications of the EU have been positive with a now unified east and west Germany, progressive laws and leaders in innovation, placing Germany among other EU countries as pioneers for change, equality and peace. Politically, the EU has had a large impact on Germany, a nation with a once complicated past now has one of the most stable and liberal governments in the world.

Economic Impact

Germany has the largest economy in Europe, with a GDP of 3.997 trillion USD this year (The World Bank Group, 2019). Over the years Germany has mostly faced steady growth in GDP, with similar trends to the United Kingdom, France and Italy. It has been Europe's strongest economy for decades, but its growth skyrocketed significantly greater than its European counterparts in the late 1980s and continued its growth when East and West Germany reunified.

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In 2017 alone, Germany was the largest net contributor to the EU. They paid 13 billion euros more to the EU than it received from it in funding, more than any other EU country. With the highest population in the EU – 83.019 million (EuroStat, European Union, 2019) and a comparatively low unemployment rate – 3.1% (Trading Economics 2018), it makes sense why Germany has such a strong economy.

When compared against other countries in the EU, Germany dominates in exports, not only in the EU but also worldwide being the 3rd largest exporter behind the United States and China (World Trade Organization (WTO) 2019). In addition, within the EU, Germany accounts for approx. 24.7% of exports from the EU (Trading Economics 2018).

In recent times, however, there were concerns regarding the future of the German Economy in the April – June 2019 period when the GDP growth rate reported -0.1%. With concerns of a recession, the future of the EU was also at stake given how much of an impact Germany has on the European Economy. Recent data shows that Germany avoided a recession with its gross domestic product growing by a seasonally adjusted 0.1 per cent in the three months leading up to September 2019, remarkably recovering from the fall in the previous period.

Being part of the European Union, economically is beneficial for Germany, especially in terms of unrestricted trade with other EU countries, namely France and the Netherlands, accounting for approx.  8% and 7% respectively of Germany’s exports.

In terms of imports, 66% of Germany's imports come from the other EU Member States. The European Union is the largest trade block in the world, it has allowed for no trade barriers and has allowed Germany as well as other EU countries to benefit significantly.

The introduction of the Euro has significantly increased prosperity in Germany. From 1999 to 2017, Germany has gained almost €1.9 trillion ($2.1 trillion) according to a report by the Centre for European Policy (CEP). When compared with the rest of the EU, Germany and the Netherlands are the only two that are still benefiting from the Euro.

Being part of the European Union has been nothing short of beneficial and prosperous for Germany. Had Germany not been a part of the EU, their economy would be nowhere near as strong and fruitful as it is today.

Political Impact

From a political standpoint, being part of the EU has been widely positive. Before the end of World War II, Germany did not have political stability. It wasn’t until after World War II in 1951 when the European Coal and Steel Community was created to help restore and unite Europe after the war.

It wasn't until the end of the Cold War in 1991 that Germany's political environment started to become democratic and align with that of the European Union's goals. In 1993 Member States of the EU had to adhere to the Copenhagen Criteria that required all nations to have stable institutions that guaranteed democracy.

Germany now has one of the most stable governments in the world. A federal parliamentary republic with a head of government - the chancellor - and a head of state - the president. The country comprises 16 states which each have their own constitution and are largely fairly independent when it comes to matters of their internal administration. Of the sixteen, three are city-states: Bremen, Berlin and Hamburg.

A federal republic allows for a fairly democratic society, where the public votes every four years for a representative from their electoral district and a political party. Combined, this creates a Bundestag, with half the seats belonging to representatives directly elected and the other half earn seats based on the proportion of votes their party receives. There is usually no majority vote and as such a coalition is usually formed.

Each of the 16 states has a local election every five years, where successful representatives are sent to the Bundesrat to act as the voice of the states and they elect a president who appoints the chancellor who is then voted on by the Bundestag. The chancellor is the one who sets policy guidelines and holds together the coalition to ensure motions can be passed through parliament.

The German government would not be as stable and effective if it weren’t for the EU promoting peace and democracy after the Cold War. Overall the impact of the EU on Germany in a political sense has been positive.

Cultural Impact

Being part of the European Union has had a positive cultural impact on Germany, namely through the implementation of the EU’s goals and values. Significant cultural goals listed on The official website for the European Union include:

  • combat social exclusion and discrimination
  • promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens
  • offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders
  • respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity (European Union 2019)

The EU prides itself on preserving the shared cultural heritage of all Member States of the EU; with a multitude of initiatives in place to foster and develop the arts, education and creative industries.

One organisation set up by the European Commission is Creative Europe. Creative Europe’s purpose is to support Europe’s cultural and creative sectors, through initiatives that increase awareness and exposure to new technology and promotes new opportunities from globalisation. The EU also partners with film festivals, cultural exhibitions, concerts, conferences, artistic prizes and awards across Europe every year.

For Germany in particular, the EU supports the DW Akademie – Germany’s leading media development organisation. The DW Akademie supports the right to freedom of expression and aids in the development of independent and transparent media systems. Their work extends the borders of Germany, working with over 50 developing countries through setting education standards and promoting independent and responsible journalism. The funding they receive comes from a range of organisations, with the European Union being one of their major supporters.

Germany's cultural nature and preserved culture have been protected by the EU with so many policies in place to protect all EU nations cultures. Without the EU, Germany would not be where it is today and would lack the direction to implement the many cultural initiatives it has.

Social Impact

The social impact of being part of the European Union has been very positive for Germany. Being one of the pioneers for research and development puts Germany in the top 3 countries in the world for innovation. All their manufacturing and engineering would not be possible if it weren't a member of the EU. From an economic standpoint, the trade blocs are extremely beneficial, but from a social aspect, because of the ease of access to materials from countries like France, organisations in Germany do not have to pay more or look to overseas importers for materials to further their projects.

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The EU has a program in place which allows any EU citizen to study for free at public universities in most EU countries. Germany is one of many that has this in place, reiterating its commitment to education and development. Germany also allows many international students to study for free in various universities. The EU strongly believes that everyone is entitled to an education and they strive to encourage mobility of students, trainees, teachers and young people, and facilitate exchanges of information and experience, to ensure the highest standard of education for its youth.

In terms of the environment, Germany is a pioneer for renewables and climate change policies. Germany has continued to build on what the EU has created as a base for environmental policies of the EU. With high importance on promoting environmentally sustainable economic growth and protecting the EU’s endangered species and natural areas, ensuring clean drinking water, improving air quality and more sustainable waste management.

Germany took what the EU provided and expanded on it. Renewable energy has been a massive step for Germany, by 2022 there will be no more nuclear plans and all the areas will be replaced with renewables.

In terms of waste management, Germany is at the forefront amongst its EU companions. It has one of the most complicated recycling systems which allows the country to reduce landfill and recycle a much higher percentage of waste compared to other nations. Germany's commitment to a greener future extends beyond recycling, they have implemented an energy tax reform in 2000 and according to the German Federal Statistical Office, gasoline consumption in 2000 decreased by 4.5 per cent and has continued to decrease each year since.

Immigration has been an ongoing issue since the crisis in 2015. However, the positives of migration cannot be ignored. In 2018, out of the 82 million people living in Germany, according to Thomson Reuters, one in every eight people is a foreign national. The large portion of immigrants has expanded the cultural diversity of Germany and allowed it to progress and a socially progressive nation

The social impact of the EU has been optimistic, and it has been evident that Germany has gone beyond the basic policies of the EU and taken them to a new level to be leaders for social progression in the EU.


Overall the EU has been incredibly beneficial to the EU. In every aspect, Germany has been fruitful and continues to strive amongst its fellow member states. While there have been times of economic doubt, Germany continues to come out on top. A leader in renewable energy and a force for greener and more sustainable economy, Germany prides itself in being a progressive nation for social equality. Furthermore, on a cultural level, Germany ensures the arts and other creative industries are looked after especially freedom of speech.


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