Restricted sovereignty: An analysis of Germany’s transatlantic dependence

_ Yuri Kofner, economist, MIWI Institute. Munich, January 4, 2024.

The claim that Germany is occupied by the United States is considered an anti-American conspiracy theory. However, there are many facts that suggest that Germany’s sovereignty is limited in the interests of the post-state US lobby groups. This analytical note provides a brief empirically based overview of transatlantic dependencies and leverage in the areas of defence, security, economics, finance, digital, culture, sanctions, energy and politics.

Military and secret service

In 2022, over 35,200 US soldiers were permanently stationed in Germany, which is almost three times the number of troops stationed in Italy, the country with the second largest US contingent in Europe. Even in Poland the presence is only 1,900 US soldiers, while worldwide only Japan has an even higher number of US troops stationed at 53,200 soldiers. [1]

The United States maintains around 40 military facilities in Germany, including around 20 military bases. [2] The deadly drone attacks on the European continent are coordinated and carried out from the US air force base in Ramstein, Germany. These attacks have been confirmed in countries including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with Syria and Ukraine also considered likely targets. [3]

At the same time, Germany is sending the last remaining weapons systems from the Bundeswehr to Ukraine, while at the same time purchasing new weapons from the US arms industry. According to SIPRI, US arms exports to the Federal Republic of Germany almost doubled between 2021 and 2022, creating an extremely lucrative business model for the United States. [4] An example of this is the Air Force’s purchase of 35 American F-35A fighter jets for 8.3 billion euros, especially since the European Eurofighter Typhoon has still not received a license from the USA to be equipped with nuclear weapons. [5]

In the decade from 2011 to 2020, the United States was Germany’s largest foreign arms supplier. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the USA accounted for 26.4 percent of German imports of weapons systems. [6]

The US secret service National Security Agency has been monitoring leading German politicians and statesmen for decades, including former Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal President Walter Steinmeier. [7] One of the NSA’s most important listening stations in Europe is located in Bad Aibling, Bavaria. [8]

Economy, finance, digital and culture

Due to CO2 pricing, technology bans, energy transition, increasing bureaucracy and mass immigration, German industry is experiencing deindustrialization, accompanied by an exodus of industry – especially to the USA. Between 2013 and 2022, the net outflow of foreign direct investment was over USD 636 billion, [9] of which a significant share, between a fifth and a half, went to the USA. [10]

It is noteworthy that 65 percent of the German DAX companies, i.e. the 40 largest companies in the German economy, are owned by US investment funds, primarily by BlackRock and the Vanguard Group. [11]

Almost all key players in the German economy are members or fellows of transatlantic networks. For example, the CEOs of Deutsche Bank and BASF attended Bilderberg meetings, [12] while the CEOs of Daimler, Vonovia Daimler and Allianz, are members of the Trilateral Commission. [13] The chief economist of the Advisory Council for the Assessment of Overall Economic Development (SVR) takes part in events organized by the George Marschall Foundation. [14] Furthermore, high-ranking managers from institutions such as the Bundesbank, IW Cologne, Meta Deutschland, Google Deutschland, BMW, Hapag Lloyd, Rheinmetall, Airbus, RWE, Volkswagen are either board members or “young leaders” of the Atlantic Bridge. [15]

In 2018, the US dollar still accounted for almost 80 percent of the international West’s foreign exchange reserves. [16] In 2022, 72 percent of the government bonds and stocks held by the Bundesbank outside the euro area were denominated in the US dollar. [17] 43 percent of German imports and 26 percent of exports in German extra-EU trade were in US dollars. [18] Nevertheless, German banks are extremely susceptible to manipulation due to their dependence on the American payment infrastructure Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS) and extraterritorial sanctions from the US Treasury Department. [19]

As of 2022, almost 40 percent of Germany’s gold reserves are still stored in the United States, and nearly half of the Bundesbank’s gold assets are in the Anglosphere. [20]

Digital dependencies manifest themselves in the storage of business data, including patents, on cloud services of US digital companies such as IBM and Microsoft. Even if German companies were to store data exclusively on German cloud services, the US Patriot Act and the CLOUD ACT allow American secret services full access. [21] The close cooperation between the digital big tech industry in the USA and the US secret services has been proven. [22]

The German search engine market and the use of social media in Germany are almost exclusively – almost 100 percent – dominated by American digital platforms. [23] An exception is TikTok, which is owned by China. [24]

In 2022, only a quarter of the films shown in German cinemas were exclusively US productions, but nine of the ten highest-grossing films in Germany came from the USA. [25] German private television is mainly in the hands of two important media groups: On the one hand, the Bertelsmann Foundation (Mohn family), which is openly and actively committed to deepening transatlantic relations, for example through lobbying for the TTIP agreement. [26] On the other hand, the ProSiebenSat1 group, which actively promotes American culture in its programs, for example by broadcasting American football and American TV series.

The German print media is also strongly focused on close transatlantic relationships. This is done primarily by involving their owners, managers, editors and journalists in pro-American networks and think tanks. [27] A clear commitment to “solidarity in the free community of values ​​with the United States” can be found openly in the statutes of Springer Verlag. [28]

From 1986 to 2021, the proportion of Anglicisms in the German language has tripled from 3.5 to over 10 percent. [29]

Ukraine, sanctions and energy crisis

With over 72 billion euros, Germany is the country that pays the most for and because of the war (USA – 71.4 billion euros). Bilateral aid amounts to 22.1 billion euros, of which 18.1 billion (four fifths!) are arms deliveries. Another 37.4 billion euros are hidden in German guarantees for EU aid to Ukraine. And social benefits for the more than 1.1 million Ukrainian refugees who have come to Germany since the start of the war have cost German taxpayers a further 13.9 billion euros. [30]

The German economy bears the highest costs of participating in Western sanctions and the energy embargo against Russia. Even before the outbreak of the hot war in Ukraine, Western sanctions had cost German companies 5.4 billion euros (0.16 percent of GDP) annually since 2014, as a study by the Ifo Institute shows. [31]

The US Treasury Department’s extraterritorial sanctions have particularly damaged European companies: 83 percent of the penalties were imposed on them in the last decade, while only three percent were imposed on American companies. [32]

Since February 2022, Brussels and Washington have significantly tightened their multilateral sanctions regime, from which Germany is suffering primarily due to the export bans and the energy embargo. Mainly because of the EU export ban on dual-use technologies, German goods exports to Russia fell by twelve billion euros (45 percent) in 2022 compared to 2021, and service exports fell by 30 percent, as data from the Bundesbank show. [33]

The negative effects of the energy embargo were ten times more drastic. In spring 2022, the EU imposed a ban on Russian coal and oil. [34] In response to European sanctions, particularly those against financial transactions, Russia had to reduce its gas deliveries via the Yamal and Nord Stream 1 pipelines in the summer.

In September 2022, the USA is said to have carried out an attack on Germany’s strategic infrastructure by blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and 2 underwater lines. This accusation is supported by statements from US President Joe Biden, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, former Polish Defense and Foreign Minister Radosław Tomasz and many other credible sources.

As a result, Germany was forced to switch from relatively cheap Russian pipeline gas (an average of 12 to 21 euros per MWh in the 2010s) [35] to much more expensive American liquefied natural gas, whose price in Europe averaged 140 euros per MWh between February and December 2022 MWh was. Even before the war, according to OMV, liquid gas was around 50 percent more expensive than natural gas. [36]

The IW Cologne estimates Germany’s welfare loss due to the energy crisis at around 65 billion euros in 2022. [37] The DIHK estimates the combined costs of export bans and higher energy costs at around 91.4 billion euros per year. [38] This corresponds to an impoverishment of around 1,500 to 2,200 euros per household per year. The USA has made a profit from the suffering of German consumers and producers. Between 2021 and 2022, American LNG exports to Germany increased 17-fold (!). Across Europe, US liquefied natural gas exporters were able to earn an additional 23.6 billion euros. [39]

Treaties and politics

From a purely legal perspective, Germany’s sovereignty can be viewed as limited: every West German head of state had to have the Chancellorship approved in writing by the Allies – by signing the so-called “Chancellor Act”. It is unclear whether this requirement remained in practice after 1990. However, the Allies are formally allowed to reactivate the “enemy state clause” of the United Nations Charter against Germany if necessary, even though it has been officially declared “obsolete”. [40]

In addition, most German policy competencies are either completely outsourced to the European level, including trade and monetary policy, competition policy and agricultural policy, or are severely limited by EU requirements, for example in energy, labor and social policy. And over 60 percent of the largest lobbyists in Brussels are US corporations. [41]

Much more important than the formal legal and legislative restrictions on German sovereignty, however, is the fact that not only the country’s top managers and media executives, but also almost the entire political elite are closely integrated into transatlantic networks and are supported by them. Leading and aspiring politicians from the cartel parties CDU/CSU, SPD, Greens and FPD are members, participants or scholarship holders of pro-American think tanks and shadow organizations such as the Atlantic Bridge, the George Marshal Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the Bilderberg Conference and the Trilateral Commission.


[1] NPR, US Department of Defense. (2022). Number of active-duty United States military personnel in Europe in 2022, by country. Statista. URL:

[2] Wikipedia (2023). List of United States Army installations in Germany. URL:

[3] Bartsch M. et al. (2015). A War Waged From German Soil. US Ramstein Base Key in Drone Attacks. Spiegel. URL: | Wagner J. (2019). US drones stir controversy in Germany. DW. URL:

[4] SIPRI (2023). SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. URL:

[5] Buro A. (2018). Die nukleare Zwickmühle. US-Atomwaffen für deutsche Eurofighter? Atomwaffen A-Z. URL:

[6] SIPRI (2022). SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. URL:

[7] Tagesspiegel (2021). USA bespitzeln Merkel, Steinmeier und andere: Dänischer Geheimdienst soll NSA bei Abhörung geholfen haben. URL: | Spiegel (2013). NSA-Überwachung. Merkels Handy steht seit 2002 auf US-Abhörliste. URL:

[8] Wikipedia (2023). Bad Aibling Station. URL:

[9] Rusche C. (2023). Deindustrialisierung. Eine Analyse auf Basis von Direktinvestitionen. IW Köln. URL:

[10] OECD (2023). FDI flows by counterpart area, BMD4.

[11] DIRK. (2023). Top 15 der Einzelinvestoren im DAX-Streubesitz im Jahr 2022 nach investiertem Kapital (in Millionen US-Dollar). Statista. Statista GmbH. Zugriff: 01. Dezember 2023.

[12] Bilderberg Meetings (2023). Meetings. URL:

[13] Trilateral Commission (2023). Leadership, Members & Fellows. URL:

[14] GMF (2023). Security and Prosperity: The Euroatlantic Order in a Polycrisis World. URL:

[15] Atlantik-Brücke (2023). URL:

[16] Ito H., McCauley R.N. (2019). The currency composition of foreign exchange reserves. BIS. URL:

[17] Deutsche Bundesbank (2023). Geschäftsbericht 2022. URL:

[18] Destatis (2019). 57,6% der deutschen Exportgeschäfte mit Drittländern wurden in Euro abgewickelt. URL:

[19] Nölke A. (2023). SWIFT-Sanktionen: Sicher keine „nukleare Option“. ifo Institut. URL:

[20] Deutsche Bundesbank. (2023). Verteilung der Goldreserven der Deutschen Bundesbank auf die einzelnen Lagerorte von 2011 bis 2022 (in Tonnen). Statista. Statista GmbH. Zugriff: 01. Dezember 2023.

[21] 1&1 IONOS SE (2019). White Paper „Streitfrage CLOUD Act“. Auswirkungen auf Datenschutz und Datensicherheit in Deutschland und Europa. URL:

[22] Reuters (2013) Strong ties bind spy agencies and Silicon Valley. URL: | Tréguer F. (2018). US Technology Companies and State Surveillance in the Post-Snowden Context: Between Cooperation and Resistance. CERI. URL:

[23] StatCounter. (2023). Marktanteile von ausgewählten Suchmaschinen bei der Desktop-Suche und bei der mobilen Suche in Deutschland im Oktober 2023. URL:

[24] StatCounter. (2023). Marktanteile von Social-Media-Portalen in Deutschland von April 2019 bis Oktober 2023. URL: | Statista. (2023). Beliebteste soziale Netzwerke in Deutschland im Jahr 2023. URL:

[25] FFA (2023). Das Kinojahr 2022. URL:

[26] Liz Mohn (2008). Rede in New York. Bertelsmann Stiftung. URL: | Neurohr W. (2015). Bertelsmann als TTIP-Strippenzieher. URL:

[27] SWPRS (2023). Medien in Deutschland. URL:

[28] Axel Springer (2023). Satzung. URL:

[29] Heine M. (2014). So viel Englisch steckt wirklich im Deutschen. Welt. URL: | Leemeta (2021). Anglizismen. Diese englischen Wörter findet man häufig im Deutschen. URL:

[30] Trebesch C. et al. (2023). Ukraine Support Tracker Data. IfW Kiel:

[31] Flach L. et al. (2020). Die volkswirtschaftlichen Kosten der Sanktionen in Bezug auf Russland- ifo Institut. URL:


[33] Bundesbank (2023). Außenhandel und Dienstleistungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland mit dem Ausland. URL:

[34] European Council (2023). Timeline – EU restrictive measures against Russia over Ukraine. URL:

[35] World Gas Intelligence, World Bank (2023). Russisches Erdgas monatlicher Preis – Euro pro Millionen BTU. URL:

[36] TASS (2018). Russian gas is 50% cheaper for Europe than US LNG — OMV CEO. URL:

[37] Koenen M. Obst T. (2023). Energiekrise führt zu spürbaren Wohlstandseinbußen in Deutschland. IW Köln. URL:

[38] REUTERS (2023). Ukraine war expected to cost Germany 160 billion euros by year-end. URL:

[39]ITC (2023). Trade Map. URL:

[40] Bahr E. (2011). „Lebenslüge der Bundesrepublik“. JF. URL:

[41] LobbyFactsEU (2024). EU Transparency Register. URL:

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