BERLIN: The Germans, for their part, had learned from the crash of the Weimar Republic into National Socialism and the Third Reich that it was in their interest to embed Germany firmly in European structures. From the French perspective, the purpose of European integration was twofold: First, to improve the security of France by gaining political control over the German economic powerhouse and, second, to increase French political influence in both Europe and the world.
From the German perspective, European integration primarily served two purposes: First, to allow reconciliation with neighboring countries after two wars and, second, to promote economic growth by enlarging the markets for German industry. European cooperation proved very advantageous for both countries, but that success was also always overshadowed by the difficulty to reconcile two opposing views on economic policy. This difference in views has created conflicts that have affected all European projects. These became ever more difficult to reconcile the closer European integration became. Most importantly, European Monetary Union was based on many shady compromises. These have made the European single currency very vulnerable to financial tensions. It almost broke apart in 2012 and, for all the soothsaying, is still not yet on safe ground today. The German government was keen to win a market-liberal partner in the Brussels club. Unsurprisingly, France had blocked UK entry for many years because it feared the liberal British influence. And it was Germany which insisted on key rules for European Monetary Union. The most important of them was to hold every member responsible for its own finances in order to preserve financial discipline. In contrast, France saw in a single European currency primarily as an instrument for a laxer economic policy. Against German interests, the euro was transformed during the euro crisis to a politically useable instrument for the funding of cash-strapped EMU member states. While that was bad enough an outcome for Germany, with Brexit Germany will also lose its most important market-liberal partner on the inside of the EU.