Annalena Baerbock was one of the Greens’ leading foreign-policy voices: staunchly pro-European, tougher on big authoritarian powers, and focused on human rights and climate issues, yet keen to strike a pragmatic tone on issues such as NATO and military spending. Here below her views on key issues:

Trans-Atlantic Relationship

A clearer alignment with Biden's "democracy vs. autocracy" narrative could come, but it could also fuel tensions with EU member states that are less principled and whose commitment to the rule of law is questionable. Baerbock talked of being on the “same field” as the Biden administration when it comes to climate and human rights. She believes that Europeans, and  German Greens are not very far apart from the current US administration, and Germany and the US could move even closer together than has previously been the case, highlighting the opportunity to create a “transatlantic Green deal.”


Baerbock advocates higher EU import duties on products from Chinese companies that do not meet European environmental or labour laws, or that are subsidized by the Chinese state. She rejects the idea that Germany should go easy on China because it needs Beijing’s co-operation on climate change. She believes China would pursue pursue climate-neutral policies anyway, based on absolute self-interest. She is ready to get tough on China even if this comes with economic costs. Annalena Baerbock has argued strongly for a foreign policy guided by human rights and values. There is a readiness to touch on China’s red lines, including Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The  coalition agreement says China is a potential partner, but also a competitor and systemic rival. Germany expects Beijing to play a “responsible role for peace and stability in its neighbourhood”, and any change to Taiwan’s status must take place “peacefully and with mutual consent”. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea must be resolved “on the basis of international maritime law”. Crucially, the deal says, Germany will closely co-ordinate China policy with the US and “work together with like-minded countries to reduce strategic dependencies”and will uncritically follow the US' confrontational policy towards China and Russia." One can expect a clearer line from her toward China on its treatment of the Uighurs.


Russia is described as an increasingly authoritarian state that threatens peace and security in Europe. The coalition partners call on Russia to “immediately stop” trying to destabilise Ukraine and criticised the Kremlin’s crackdown on civil rights at home. Berlin is prepared to have a “constructive dialogue” with Moscow but will be guided by the interests of its eastern European neighbours and take into account the “perceived threats” they face from Russia. Sanctions could be applied on the real estate assets of individuals connected with the regime of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. She believes that with Russia, “you have to seek dialogue where possible, but show toughness where needed”.

Nord Stream 2

Baerbock considers Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a treacherous plan on the part of President Putin. According to Baerbock, the pipeline violates the spirit of the EU’s economic sanctions retaliating against Russian aggression.


The Greens explicitly reject the 2%- GDP on the military and express doubt that NATO’s spending is “state of the art”. She also calls for a “Germany free from nuclear weapons”.

Poland and Hungary

The coalition partners signalled they would pursue Hungary and Poland more aggressively over their rule of law violations.


Baerbock suggests Germany should work with Ukraine to set up a hydrogen pipeline.


There is plenty of scepticism in Germany and abroad about a new, green-tinged foreign policy. Conservatives have questioned whether Baerbock, who has no government experience, will hold her own against the likes of Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Observers have also questioned how much power a Baerbock-led foreign ministry will really have, in a system where the chancellery tends to have the ultimate say over foreign policy.

Once a formidable center of influence on Germany’s power map, the Foreign Ministry has been relegated to the status of a glorified consulate albeit a big one with more than 12,000 employees and a network of 230 foreign missions.

If Annalena Baerbock really wants to increase the relevance of the Foreign Ministry, she would have to invest political capital in reforming the ministry to be able to use the expertise of other German ministries and the over 200 German missions abroad and create a networked foreign policy. That would require significant reforms, including changes to its policies on diplomatic careers, its internal bureaucratic culture, IT, knowledge management and personnel.

The Foreign Ministry was once the great prize for any junior coalition partner (some of Germany’s most important political figures, including Willy Brandt, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Joschka Fischer, held the post of Foreign Minister). It now ranks second or even third in stature behind the more powerful Finance Ministry and the Economy Ministry.

Chancellor Scholz is unlikely to want to relinquish any of the authority over foreign policy that Merkel amassed in recent years. With Germany facing era-defining decisions on several fronts — its approach toward Europe, the United States and China among them — many would argue that it makes sense for the chancellor to have full control anyway.

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