German Reunification 20 Years On

Twenty years ago, the division of Germany between the liberal democratic West and the “really existing socialism” of the East came to an end. In so doing, Germany cleared the way for the reunification of Europe both in ending the divide due to Communism and in working towards the European integration of the 1990s.

In the European quarter of Brussels, there are virtually no monuments to “European history” except found in abstract statues of “Europe”. The only exceptions as far as I know are pieces of the Berlin Wall outside the European Parliament. This works as it is one of those few events that really resonate with virtually all Europeans. (Although I am sure we could have some to World War I, the Marshall Plan or the defeat of the Nazis… I don’t feel people are very good at promoting this whole “European identity”.)

However, the results of the last two decades in the former East Germany have been mixed. A special report in German (subtitles available) by EuroparlTV covers some of the big issues that affected unified Germany, including:

  • The continued weak economic performance of the East, with 13% unemployment, almost twice the national average.
  • The ups and downs of the Franco-German relationship, notably recent scuffles over evicting Roma and saving the Euro.
  • Germany’s recent ever-export-driven economic recovery (3.4% growth this year, twice the EU average).
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