"In 2016, German dominance in the EU is a myth. The only advantage Germany has over its neighbors is a stronger economy. The EU is not turning into a federal state anytime soon, and opponents of closer integration should thank Germany's old inferiority complex for it," he wrote for Bloomberg View.
Berlin is not the dominating force that the Leave campaigners in the UK or sociologists like Ulrich Beck are trying to paint it as. Germany is not coordinating economic policies of the union. German officials are not overrepresented in Brussels. Germany's share in the EU budget is slightly bigger than the share of its economic output to the entire bloc.
Yet there is no denying that the country is an economic and by extension a political powerhouse.
Critics accuse Berlin of political assertiveness that does not take into account the wishes and concerns of other EU members, particularly new ones. They point to the fact that Berlin seems to be the de facto political capital of the union, not Brussels.
"There is, indeed, something to that: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed Europeans to impose sanctions on Russia over its treatment of Ukraine," the writer noted, echoing the sentiment that Moscow was somehow to blame for the US-sponsored coup in the neighboring country and the ensuing civil war. Russia has always denied these baseless accusations.
Merkel has also welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Middle East to Germany, urging other European countries to follow the lead. "She barely consulted anyone in the EU when she invited Syrian refugees to Germany," Bershidsky said.
In addition, Germany has been flayed for its treatment of Greece last year when the troika of international creditors strong-armed Athens into accepting a bailout deal that imposed more austerity measures on the already fragile economy.
Anti-Russian sanctions have increasingly caused a rift in the union, with many businesses in Italy, France and Germany itself pushing for lifting of the restrictive measures that ruined profitable cooperation.
"Under Merkel, Germany hasn't so much led as tried to keep the EU and the euro area together – with limited success, as it's turned out," Bershidsky said.