Study explores perceptions of Germany around the world
Bonn/Eschborn. Germany is a global player – but it has yet to learn how to fulfil this role consistently. This is one of the major findings of a new study conducted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in which individuals around the world were asked how they perceived Germany. By contrast with the preceding study, carried out in 2012, interviewees now increasingly acknowledge Germany’s role as a global leader, and many explicitly welcome this role. At the same time, this perception of Germany’s leadership role is giving rise to greater demands on the country, with interviewees calling on it, for example, to have a clearer vision for Europe in terms of both policy and the economy.
One interviewee in the United Kingdom put it this way: ‘The world needs an enlightened global power. Germany is enlightened but not energetic enough to assert its position.’ Many interviewees cited the example of the crisis in Ukraine, which was making headlines while the survey was being conducted. They argued that Germany was a key intermediary between Ukraine and Russia and that its diplomatic approach had clearly set it apart from other approaches, including that of the USA. Yet many also expressed surprise at Germany’s hesitancy and at what they saw as excessive ‘humility and modesty.’
Christoph Beier, Vice-Chair of the GIZ Management Board, said ‘The study shows that, as Germany has stepped up its involvement around the world, even greater demands are being made of it.’
Many interviewees also believed Germany should be bolder in economic terms, for example in embracing innovation. And while many praised Germany’s small and medium-sized enterprises as drivers of its economy, they were also concerned that the country was at risk of missing out on the digital transformation in particular. As one interviewee put it, ‘where is Germany’s Silicon Valley?’
Germany’s policy on the energy transition was another issue that concerned many interviewees, attracting both criticism and admiration. A Norwegian interviewee said, ‘The energy shift is extremely ambitious, but Germany is on the right track. You lead the EU in this field.’
179 people in 26 countries were interviewed for the study, ranging from students to prime ministers. In qualitative face-to-face interviews, these individuals expressed their views in a format that allowed scope for freeform comments. Taken as a whole, the views expressed are markedly more differentiated than those in the first study.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federal enterprise with worldwide operations. We support the Federal German Government in achieving its goals in the fields of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education. Through our work we assist people and societies in shaping their own futures and improving living conditions.