The article looks first into the nature of the relations between Germany and the CEE countries a decade since the accession of the CEE countries to the EU. The relations are characterized as normalised and intensive with diverse levels of closeness and cooperation reflecting of the conceptual and ideological compatibility/differences.
Next, the article focuses on the German attitude to the euro zone crisis. Germany has become a hegemon in the rescue effort aimed at stabilisation and economic invigoration of the euro zone. However, German hegemony has developed by default, not by design: her leading position is linked with considerable political and financial costs. Germany moved central stage and took the position of a reluctant hegemon. However, German role is contested internationally (it has not the support of the French government in key areas) as well as internally (particularly by the Federal Constitutional Court and the Bundesbank).
The article argues that the new situation makes the German–CEE relations increasingly relevant for both sides. The German leadership of the EU increasing split along the north–south divide requires backing by the Northern group countries to which the CEE in general belongs. Given a number of reasons the CEE countries implement three distinctive strategies of co-operation with Germany in European politics. Also military co-operation, which remained rather limited so far, may receive new impulses, given the financial austerity.