EU chief negotiator recalls German reunification talks

Carlo Trojan large.jpg

East and West Germany reunified on 3 October 1990, less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The historic event was described as EU "enlargement without accession" by Carlo Trojan, the European Commission's chief negotiator on Germany's reunification. He spoke to EURACTIV Germany for the first time since those days.

Carlo Trojan, a Dutch national, was 48 and held the position of secretary-general at the European Commission when he was assigned the task of negotiating the unification of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany.

He describes the experience as "the most unique of his career". But the fact that he has never been interviewed since then speaks volumes about the fact that the EU's history is yet to be written.

Politically, Trojan stresses the key role played by then-Commission President Jacques Delors. In October 1989, before the fall the Berlin Wall, Delors made a speech in Bruges in which he anticipated the special case of the GDR, saying that the country's reunification would strengthen European federalism.

"He was one of the few politicians who was then really supportive of German unification. That was also the basis of his very special bond with [German Chancellor] Helmut Kohl afterwards," Trojan says.

Trojan describes the atmosphere in Europe on 9 November as jubilant. But he also mentions "some second thoughts" about the re-emergence of Germany on the part of French President François Mitterrand, Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens, not to mention the "very strong second thoughts" of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The former Commission official stresses the importance of the July 1990 European Council in Dublin, at which Germany's reunification was dealt with in the context of deepening Europe's monetary and political union.

"German unification was the trigger of European Monetary Union and strengthening integration in Europe. Without it we wouldn't have had the euro," Trojan stresses.

As for his tasks as negotiator, Trojan explains that the most complicated part was the external dimension, as all the GDR's commitments with countries such as Cuba or Vietnam automatically became commitments of the European Community.

"But we were rather lucky in one aspect: most of the external commitments of the GDR were in the context of five-year planning, which ended by the end of 1990," he explained.

Despite the difficulties, Trojan describes the atmosphere at the reunification talks as "very constructive," especially with regard to the European Parliament, which passed two readings of the reunification bill in one week.

As a result, Germany reunified faster than a planned timeline for 1 January 1991, he explains.

To read the interview in full, please click here.

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