How To Push Germany’s Buttons 101

Germany really doesn’t want to be the bully of Europe. Throughout the euro crisis, there have been protests, complete with masks of Merkel with a Hitler mustache, across southern Europe, accusing Germany of trying to impose its will on its neighbors. Germany, of course, doesn’t like this: Half the point of the EU and the euro was to prevent German domination, and, German leaders insist, all they’re trying to do is hold these institutions together. This week, in a press conference with Italian PM Mario Monti, Merkel bent over backwards to sing the praises of Italy and insist that Germany isn’t trying to make Italy “German.”

But when it comes to energy, Germany can’t help being a little bullyish.

Last year, German environmentalists won a major victory when the Merkel administration shut down half the country’s nuclear power plants and pledged to phase out the other half by 2022. Future safety from a Fukushima-like disaster was assured. Or so it seemed.

Now, two neighboring countries are planning to build new reactors not far from the German border. Germans are not happy about it, and they’re doing all they can to convince Poland and Holland to be more, well, German.

It’s my first Spiegel story — read it here.

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