In 1953 the novelist Thomas Mann appealed to an audience of students in Hamburg to strive for not a German Europe but a European Germany. This stirring pledge was endlessly repeated at the time of German unification. Today we have a variation that few foresaw: a European Germany in a German Europe.
Angela Merkel's Berlin republic is a European Germany, in the rich, positive sense that the great novelist had come to use the term. It is free, civilised, democratic, law-bound, and socially and environmentally conscious. It's far from perfect, obviously, but as good as any other big country in Europe – and the best Germany we've ever had.