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Journal of Cold War Studies 3.1 (2001) 133-135

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Book Review

German Unification and the Union of Europe:
The Domestic Politics of Integration Policy

Jeffrey Anderson, German Unification and the Union of Europe: The Domestic Politics of Integration Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 227 pp. $19.95 (softcover).

After the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, West Germany confronted many unexpected challenges. The coterminous processes of German unification and [End Page 133] European integration, including the management of the budget and expenditure policies of the European Union (EU, known until 1992 as the European Community, or EC), forced West Germany to reconfigure its political and economic interests.

In German Unification and the Union of Europe, Jeffrey Anderson analyzes how German politicians balanced conflicting means and ends as they sought to treat "unification and Europe as two sides of the same coin" (p. 55). Because the central problem of unification was the need to ensure some form of political and economic continuity in Germany after 1989, the book focuses on the German government's effort to expedite the economic transformation of the eastern German territories (Länder). Anderson shows that the financial costs of German unification threatened to detract from Germany's leading role in EC/EU integration. Finding itself sharing a border with Central European countries that aspired to become part of the EU, Germany began to reconsider its position in the heart of Europe and to rethink the costs of EU membership, especially since Germany was the primary contributor to the EU organization's budget (in 1996 Germany's contribution amounted to 29.2 percent of the organization's budget, but Germany received only 14.8 percent of EU expen-ditures).

Anderson seeks to explain the complexity of German behavior in Europe by looking at interests, institutions, and ideas. He explains the continuity of some German policies and the discontinuity of others as the country redefined its interests after unification. The book contains a detailed analysis of seven major areas of Germany's policy vis-à-vis the EU: foreign trade, internal market, energy, environment, competition, agriculture, and structural funds. Although agricultural policy, competition policy, and policy on structural funds changed significantly after 1990, Germany's handling of foreign trade and domestic markets was largely unaltered. Energy and environmental policies reflected both continuity and discontinuity. The potential for EU financing of development in eastern Germany, and Germany's burgeoning trade relations with East-Central European economies, created conflicts in various sectors, including trade, structural funds, common agricultural policy, and state aid policy. The national mix of interests, institutions, and ideas altered relationships and created the potential for disorder within the EU. Anderson is astute in gauging the relative weight of Germany's political and economic interests in the process of EU integration. The German government tried to preserve the postwar equilibrium of interests, institutions, and ideas in relations between Germany and Europe through a policy of comprehensive institutional transfer at the national and supranational levels. New interests made use of old institutions and the flexibility inherent in dominant policy models to elicit a shift in government approaches to both federal and European policies.

Anderson argues that interests mattered most of all in German politics in the 1990s. Formidable new interest groups staked out new policy directions through their interaction with certain kinds of institutional frameworks and ideational systems. The book demonstrates that the multilevel interactions among interests, institutions, and ideas not only are ubiquitous, but reveal systematic properties in both processes and outcomes.

Anderson concludes that German policies during the 1990s rendered Germany [End Page 134] "less of a model and magnet for other European countries" (p. 206), although it continued to be central to the continent's future peace and prosperity. EU countries and citizens would do well to reflect on Germany's interests, which, even if still in flux, fit comfortably within a uniquely positive European identity.

German Unification and the Union of Europe is a much needed contribution to the field. Experts in this...