Welcome to Berlin, Europe’s new capital

You’re not only looking at the de facto leader of Europe, which still most people don’t realize it for what it is, but you’re also looking at the next potential world leader. Critics can laugh at the notion, but when one is ahead of the curve, today’s jokes are tomorrow’s reality.

Berlin does not feel like an imperial city. The new government buildings – the chancellor’s office, the Bundestag and the foreign ministry – have all been designed with plenty of glass and natural light, to emphasise transparency and democracy. The finance ministry is, admittedly, housed in the old headquarters of the Luftwaffe. But most of the grandest architecture – Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg gate – is a legacy of the Prussian kings. Modern Berlin presents a more welcoming face, and has become a magnet for tourists and teenagers.

Yet while the German capital has deliberately eschewed the trappings of imperial power, the fact is that Berlin is increasingly the de facto capital of the EU. Of course the EU’s main institutions – the commission and the council – are still based in Brussels. But the key decisions are increasingly made in Berlin. Continue reading