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The Future of German Foreign Policy

Angela Merkel steps down as Chancellor in September 2021, and a new German government will have to chart its course in a shifting international environment. The key issues will be a new international power structure characterised by Sino-American rivalry; internationalising armed conflicts; the blurring line between internal and external security; economic and social transformation driven by digitalisation and climate policy; and not least challenges to the democratic order in Europe and other Western countries.

SWP researchers analyse these developments, the contexts they play out in, and the options for political decision-makers shaping Germany’s foreign, European and security policy. Some of the contributions suggest a fundamental reorientation of Germany’s role in the United Nations, NATO and the European Union, and an overhaul of the underlying normative principles. Others advise reprioritising specific policy areas and partners, or adapting instruments and resources. How Germany navigates between continuity and change is a central political question, and one closely watched across Europe and further afield.

This SWP Dossier on Future German Foreign Policy examines fundamental questions of German foreign, European and security policy, and dissects the values, interests and strategies at play in a rapidly changing international environment. The authors also consider Germany’s partners and issues of security and resilience and sustainable prosperity.

See Other Resources for additional relevant publications and website links (German government and agencies, other research institutes).