Is the war in Ukraine causing the breakdown of the German economic model? One of the strongest signals was given by the Minister of the Economy, the ecologist Robert Habeck, on Monday, April 4, who announced the quasi-nationalization “temporary” of Gazprom Germania, the German subsidiary of the energy group, which organizes the distribution and storage of Russian gas through the Rhine. Motivated by reasons of security and national supply, it is placed under the supervision of a foreign private company by the State. . It breaks an important economic taboo and illustrates the catastrophic adaptation of Europe’s leading economy to the new world order.
To take the measure of current developments, it is necessary to remember the shock that Russian aggression against Ukraine constitutes for Germany. Moscow ruined the special relationship that still linked it to Berlin, inherited from history and maintained by exchanges, by assuming the dramatic consequences on the Russian economy and on its population. This scenario, of violence not imagined by Germany, hits him on the Achilles heel: energy, which has made him depend largely on Russian fossil imports.
The war also casts a shadow over the pattern that has shaped Germany’s fortunes over the last twenty years. Since the late 1990s, the winning formula of “made in Germany” has been to import raw materials, energy and intermediate products at good prices, to build and assemble high value-added products in Germany, exported all over the world with a strong margin, particularly to China. No other country of this size has benefited so much from globalization. The Russian aggression, which brings with it a loss of confidence in international trade, questions the intellectual, moral and economic foundations of this model.
“Bitter balance” of Russian politics
In recent days, several important economic and political leaders of the 2010s have acknowledged their blindness to Vladimir Putin. On Wednesday, April 6, former Siemens boss Joe Kaeser, who has met several times face-to-face with the Russian president, made an act of contrition. “I expected [les échanges économiques] would help boost Russia’s industrial development. I have always been a believer in the principle of “change through trade”. He failed, at least in this case. recognized. This theory, long supported by business circles, defends the idea that exchanges with non-democratic countries contribute positively to change.
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