Strategy Recommendations for the Next German Government (II)

German think tank specifies demands for Germany's foreign policy: creation of a sort of national security council, radical change of course in relations with China, the EU's inner alignment.

BERLIN (Own report) - The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) submitted concrete proposals for Germany's and the EU's alignment in view of the upcoming global power struggles. The proposals, which were drawn up by a group of experts coordinated by the DGAP, are addressed to the next German government, which is expected to immediately begin with their implementation. The group of experts takes up demands that have been repeatedly raised since some time, including the creation of a sort of national security council and the establishment of a European intervention force, a "European Joint Force." Special attention is being paid to digital technologies, considered to be a "decisive factor" for economic clout. The DGAP paper is calling for a radical change of the policy towards China. Plans for a comprehensive propagandistic alignment of civil society play an important role. A "rating agency" should be created to "rate" the media on its alleged "factual accuracy in its reporting."

A "National Security Week"

The measures being proposed by the group of experts include the establishment of specific structures and processes, facilitating the "ability to take action" in the future, even in "parallel, complex crises."[1] The Federal Security Council in particular, which currently must approve arms exports, for example, must be upgraded to become "the federal government's central foreign policy coordinating body." This is in line with the demand for creating a national security council that has been repeatedly raised for years. ( reported.[2]) The Federal Security Council should consist of a "cabinet committee" and a "secretariat," including officials and experts. At the beginning of each legislature, it should present a "foreign and security policy strategy" and "accompany its implementation." In addition, the group of experts recommends that the federal government be obliged to present an "annual report on the state of Germany and the world" to the Bundestag. And last but not least, new "occasions to involve civil society" should be introduced, "for example in the form of annual national security weeks of the Bundestag."

Exercises with Civilians

The authors of the DGAP strategy paper are also proposing concrete measures for an arms-buildup and for getting the society accustomed to more crises and wars, citing "dangers and threats to Germany's security." The paper lists foremost "China's global dominance strategy" and "Russia's territorial revisionism," and "wars, crises and domestic conflicts" not only just beyond the EU's external borders, but also "within Europe" (Ukraine, eastern Mediterranean).[3] The authors recommend not only a "qualitative leap to facilitate the interlocking of the EU and NATO," but also to establish a new military unit ("European Joint Force", "EJF"). As a "visible, political, military and technological focal point," the EJF should provide "50 percent of conventional capacities needed for Europe's collective defense and military crisis management." To make society crisis-proof and possibly even war-proof, "regular exercises and simulations at all levels (federal, state and local)" should be organized "with all actors (civilian, military, state, private)." A "regular stress and operational test" is planned for "institutions rated crucial."

Technological Confrontations

The strategy paper pays special attention to the field of technology, which has growing significance for the global power struggle. Technologies, "especially in the domain of digitalization," are today, according to the paper, not only "motors of innovation," but even "the decisive indicators for (future) competivity, economic strength and resilience."[4] Everything must be done to reinforce Germany and the EU's development of their own technologies. This is the case, not least of all, given the fact that "digital technology ... also plays an important role within the security authorities and the military." The group warns that this matter is extremely sensitive. For example, "the creation of one's own technological capabilities, that reduce dependence on US companies, ... is, in the short term, unrealistic" as well as "very costly and risky." In turn, an attempt, "to define, together with European partners, a common path between the USA and China," would "permanently transform Germany and the EU into the confrontational playing field between Chinese and American interests." "Closing ranks tighter with the USA in the technology sector," would however, "inevitably lead to more acute confrontation with China."

"Pioneer Group, China"

In relationship to Beijing, the group of experts calls on Berlin to execute a radical change of course. "The new German government should transform Germany's policy toward China from the ground up," according to the strategy paper. Otherwise, Germany runs the risk, on the one hand, of passing "from an innovator of, to a market for Chinese technologies of the future" and on the other, also "of losing importance in the eyes of the USA - a key ally." From now on, the policy toward China "must be formulated in the expanded Federal Security Council," the authors insist, "specialized departments of the respective ministries should hold consultations prior to each meeting." A "Pioneer Group China" should be formed within the EU, to formulate a common approach. Beyond Europe, Berlin must coordinate with "like-minded." "Like-minded," is a euphemism for the People's Republic's rivals (Japan, Australia, India).[5] The DGAP's strategy paper also foresees a comprehensive propagandistic alignment of civil society for the conflict with China. For example, "China Information Banks" will be created, which "will develop targeted information, advisory and educational offers for various social groups" - ranging "from municipal administrations, confronted with Chinese investment offers," to schools. The propaganda offensive should also contain "an information offer" for "Chinese abroad" - "for example students."

Defense Against Criticism and Domestic Alignment

Ultimately, the DGAP strategy paper attaches great importance to the domestic alignment of the society, which is described under the term "Resilience." This deals primarily with measures to ward off "targeted campaigns of disinformation and propaganda." What is considered a "campaign," depends on the standpoint of the person or institution defining. The strategy paper's authors, for example, propose the creation of a "non-governmental rating agency," which - "oriented, of all things, on criteria, for example, of 'factual accuracy in reporting'" - will "assess the media." "Such an agency," should of course, avoid giving "the impression" of behaving like an Orwellian "Ministry of Truth," thus, it should be "created at a distance from and independent of the government." The German government, however, should also "make more use, in the future, of the possibilities and scope of social networks" - of course only "to provide the citizens trustworthy content." And last but not least, "a German structure similar to the EU's East StratCom" should be created, with the objective of "exposing and combating foreign disinformation and propaganda." The East StratCom Task Force has the duty of exposing and combating alleged "Russian propaganda." In the past, it has characterized criticism of the EU as "disinformation" that must be vigorously combated. ( reported.[6])


For more information on this subject, see: Strategy Recommendations for the Next German Government (I).


[1] This quote and those that follow are taken from: Ideenwerkstatt Deutsche Außenpolitik: Smarte Souveränität. 10 Aktionspläne für die neue Bundesregierung. DGAP Bericht Nr. 16. September 2021.

[2] See also The Germans to the front and Ein Bundesverkehrswegeplan für die Rüstung.

[3] See also Die zweite Berliner Libyen-Konferenz, Die Eisbrecher und Im militärischen Sperrgebiet.

[4] See also Kampf um digitale Souveränität (II).

[5] See also The EU's Indo-Pacific Strategy

[6] See also Die EU und die Desinformation.