Chemin de navigation

Left navigation

Additional tools

Autres langues disponibles: aucune

SPEECH/11/738

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

The State of Europe – Die Europa Rede

Berlin, 9 November 2011

Haus der Berliner Festspiele

Sehr geehrter Herr Bundestagspräsident Lammert,

Sehr geehrter Herr Vorsitzender, lieber Hans-Gert Pöttering,

Sehr geehrter Herr Vorsitzender Berg,

Sehr geehrter Herr Vorsitzender Hassemer,

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

I would like to thank the creators of the Berliner Europa-Rede, the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung and the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin, for this invitation to speak to you today. I thank you, but I also congratulate you for choosing this date, 9th November. With the establishment of the Berliner Europa-Rede, you have not only created a new European public space. By placing it every year on this day, a German and a European "Schicksalstag", you express the strong link between the destiny of Germany and the destiny of Europe.

This date reminds us of both painful and joyful moments of the recent history of your country, and with it of our continent.

It is the day when the German Kaiserreich came to an end. Two days later, the First World War armistice brought insufferable carnage to an end but failed to pave the way for enduring peace. It is the day of the Nazi's burning of the synagogues in 1938, one of the events that announced horrors yet to come. But then, it is the day of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, when freedom prevailed over totalitarian rule. This date symbolises the fact that our actions have consequences. That political decisions are not indifferent. That history is shaped not by fatality, but by what we do. That by taking the right decisions, we can build hope, humanity, and freedom.

I remember clearly the 9th November 1989. At that time I was Deputy Foreign Minister of my country. I was following with attention the developments here in Germany from the South-Western tip of our continent. Yet things felt so close, and emotions were so strong.

It reminded me very much of the celebrations in the streets when Portugal won its democracy in 1974. When you are 18 years of age and you see a regime, a dictatorship fall in one day, you never forget what democracy means. I instinctively believed that something extraordinary was happening - that the opening of the Berlin wall meant the reunification not only of Germany but also of Europe.

That is why I am really so honoured to be here today, in this country, in this city, just a few metres from where the destiny of Europe changed – to talk to you about the challenges Europe faces today. And once again my apologies for arriving late. Usually, as Hans-Gert Pöttering knows it, I am very punctual, but I could not control the fog in Berlin that delayed all the planes that came from the other parts of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Europe is indeed very different today to how it was in 1989, not only with the European Union growing from 12 Member States we were then to 27 Member States, having a today a truly continental dimension and a global outreach.

But we are also different in the world because the forces of globalisation, combined with information technology, have resulted in a new dimension of interdependence that affects every European country and every European citizen.

In 1989, the Internet was not yet part of our reality. Markets were not in a position to trigger within seconds chain-reactions to events that spilled all around the globe.

This is our reality today. This is the reality that informs our policy and shapes our political challenge.

This reality sits alongside the emergence, the rapid development, of many economies and nations whose influence on world affairs was much more limited than it is today. The bi-polar system of the world before 1989 has been replaced by a multi-polar, more unstable and more unpredictable world.

If Europe wants to play its role in this new world, our Member States must realise that they do not have the power or influence to do so alone.

Already in 1954 Jean Monnet predicted that: “Our countries have become too small for today's world, when compared to the potential of modern technical means and in relation to the dimension of America and Russia today, China and India tomorrow”. Jean-Monnet, 1954.

Over half a century later, Europe's challenges are even greater. And so our ambition must be stronger, not weaker.

More or less at the same time, Konrad Adenauer defined the task of the generations to come in four simple words: "Europa muss geschaffen werden." So I think we can say that the generations that have preceded us have done their part – now is the time for us to do ours.

Only a united Europe has the leverage and strength to defend our values and promote our interests in the world.

And let's be clear – those values and interests must be promoted.

I know that in the current tendency towards negativism – something I often call the 'intellectual glamour of pessimism', people tend to underline Europe's problems. Every commentator wants to show that he is more intelligent than the others by being more pessimistic. Yes, it is clear that we are facing difficulties and serious difficulties. But we must not diminish the fact that since the Second World War, and in large part thanks to the development of European integration, we have established in this continent, here in our Europe, the most decent societies known to mankind.

In no other place on earth has it been possible to put together this combination of civic, political and economic freedoms. Equality of rights between men and women. Respect for the environment. The ambition for higher levels of social cohesion and social protection. The solidarity with other parts of the world less fortunate than ourselves. In other words, also what was created here in Germany, and it is now part of our model in Europe, and it is in the Lisbon Treaty – the social market economy we have consolidated through the process of integration.

A model that is based on values with a transformational and inspirational power. A model that is indeed an inspiration for many other parts of the world.

We can be proud of our model. It deserves to be defended and developed. But to do so, we must ensure Europe's continued prosperity. And for that, we must make ourselves more competitive. We need a greater degree of economic discipline and convergence, and we need to match our monetary union with an economic union.

In other words, in the globalisation age, the unification of Europe is more essential than ever if we want to preserve our way of life, to protect our values, to promote prosperity of our citizens.

By acting together we can gather strength through numbers.

We can create a European dimension. This is not detrimental to the Member States, as it is sometimes said in some debates. Putting the European Union in opposition to the interest of our democratic countries. Rather it is in their interests. Germany counts more in the world today not only because of its economic power, the force of its industry, of its exports, of its technology, the greatest democracy ever established here, your culture, Germany counts more in the world because it is a force in Europe. And this is why we can at the same time reinforce what is so important for us – the European dimension and also our national interest inside this European dimension.

So Europe is our destiny. Strength through unity is our fate. That is why we must stand together and forge a stable union, a deeper union, a stronger union.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The case for Europe, I believe, is a dynamic one. Europe is not a concept that can be finished once and for all. It is a concept that must be, and that can be, adapted to changing circumstances – politically and economically.

Talk of emerging powers has become now commonplace. Let me say this: provided there is the political will the greatest emerging power in the world will be the European Union. In reality, if you compare the European Union today, and I am not now speaking about the power of Europe in the past, the power of the different political empires that Europe had created, or the power of different nations in the world. But if you compare the European Union today with its continental size, the European Union counts more today than the European Union of the six, of the nine, of the twelve. So indeed, as a Union we are now an emerging power. The important and relevant question is to see if we have the political will to deepen this union. Because the unique nature of the European Union makes it a power of transformation through cooperation not imposition. We have been painfully aware in recent months that it carries imperfections that we must address. But I can tell you this: our partners in the world urge us to strengthen this project – they emphatically do not encourage us to abandon or even weaken it. The world needs a stronger Europe. More Europe, not less.

Yet there are some in Europe who claim that their country does not need the rest of Europe. Populism and sometimes even nationalism raises its head across our continent, claiming that too much Europe is the cause of our current difficulties. Claiming that less Europe or even non-Europe would bring solutions.

This is ignoring the global realities as well as our common history that teaches us that this continent is simply too small and too inter-dependent for us to stand apart. To turn our backs to each other. There cannot be peace and prosperity in the North or in the West of Europe if there is no peace and prosperity in the South or in the East.

But the argument for going it alone also defies economic rationality. Just an example, in 2010, Germany exported more goods and services to the Netherlands (around 15 million inhabitants) than to China, to France than to the US, to Poland than to Russia, to Spain than to Brazil, to Hungary than to India. In the same year, Germany exported almost five times as many goods to the rest of the European Union than it did to the BRICs countries altogether (China, India, Russia, Brazil, all of them). Its imports from the BRICs countries stood at just 20% of those from its EU neighbours. I could continue with many other examples that show how deep is our integration and our interdependence.

Were the Euro area or the European Union to break apart, the costs have been estimated at up to 50% of GDP in an initial phase. It is estimated that Germany's GDP would contract by 3% and it would lose one million jobs if the Euro area were to shrink to a few core member countries. This study was made by a very important financial institution here in Germany. What is more, it would jeopardise the future prosperity of the next generation. That is the threat that hangs over us, and it is that threat that guides our commitment to resolving the situations in Greece and elsewhere, provided that those countries play their part as well.

That is why all responsible leaders must now make the case for Europe. Make the case for strength through unity. We must engage our citizens in an honest and frank debate about Europe. About its assets, but also about its shortcomings. About its potential and its future. We must show our citizens what is at stake. We must choose the path of strength over weakness. Unity over fragmentation. The hard choice over the easy one.

To do otherwise will be to consign ourselves towards what Paddy Ashdown stated recently “a collection of perfectly sovereign corks bobbing along in the wake of other people’s ocean liners”.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The European Union does not promise paradise. But it is indeed our best chance for prosperity. It is institutionally and politically in international relations the single greatest achievement of our time, probably also of human history. When you think what was the past of war and conflict not only in Europe but in so many parts of the world. Our best means to use the crisis as an opportunity for creativity out of destruction. This is the European Union. The European Union was created precisely for moments such as we have now. It is in moments of difficulty that we can see those who are really ready to defend the European Union as a project. What we need are Europeans for all seasons, not only when seasons are easy. It is precisely in moments of difficulty that we have to show our commitment to Europe. Of course I hope that we will stand collectively behind it and give it the tools it needs to make Europe stronger.

Let me be clear - that is not about power grabbing. Very often our discussions are dominated by this paradigm. Of course, as the President of the European Commission people would expect me to argue for a European approach.

But as I say very often to my interlocutors, I am not here as a trade union for the European Commission. After more than 30 years in politics in my Parliament in my country, but also in the government 12 years in the government, including as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, and now after seven years in the Commission, I want to tell you I have never seen politically anything so clearly as the need for a stronger Europe. We are witnessing fundamental changes to the economic and geopolitical order that have convinced me that Europe needs to advance now together or risk fragmentation. We are in one of those moments when we cannot stand still. There are some moments when we can keep business as usual, but now the dynamic of globalisation in financial and economic terms, but also in geopolitical terms, put Europeans in front of a choice – do they really want to live together and to share a common destiny and count in the world, or do they really want to face the prospects of fragmentation and decline. So Europe must either transform itself or it will decline. We are in a defining moment where we either unite or face irrelevance. If I may use a Latin expression, we are in those moments where "Non progredi est regredi".

Ladies and gentlemen, Europe is indeed at a crossroads.

That is why it is so vitally important now to ensure that we get it right. That we build the kind of Europe we want and we need for the future. To give it the tools to make it strong. To use the current crisis as an opportunity to modernise and dynamise Europe and how it is run. Our goal must not be to restore the status quo ante, but to move on to something new and better.

For that to happen, we need a stability union, but also a solidarity union. To get the growth that Europe so badly needs for any of this to survive, we need more discipline but also more convergence.

We need a union of responsibility but also of solidarity. If we agree that we share a common destiny, these all belong together.

Reinforced governance of the Euro area must be a central pillar of this and is the focus of my intervention today. But this should not detract from the importance of strengthening European integration in other areas, namely Common Foreign and Security Policy and Defence. Europe can only count in the world if it is strong and united around an active promotion of its values and interests. And let's not be naïve, without a political dimension, without a diplomatic dimension and without also the capacity to project power, we will not be up to the challenges of today's and future world.

But today let us focus on strengthening our method for economic governance. It is clear that the markets make decisions that can affect us all within seconds. In response, we cannot continue to take decisions as we have been doing until now.

The speed of the European Union, and a fortiori of the Euro area, cannot be the speed of its slowest member or its most reluctant member. There are and must be – indeed there are! – safeguards for those who do not want to go along. But it is one thing not to go along, and another thing entirely to hinder others to move forward.

Neither should Europe veer backwards to the kind of developments that would run it through intergovernmental cooperation alone.

That would take us back to the 19th century, not even to the 20th century, but to the 19th century, where peace and prosperity were supposed to be guaranteed through a precarious balance between a limited number of powers – great powers, medium powers, small powers in Europe. We know very well that this kind of balance of powers did not work then.

That is why, after the Second World War we created common, supranational institutions and methods.

Jean Monnet once wrote that: “nothing is possible without men, and nothing is lasting without institutions.” Legitimate institutions, created and upheld by the Member States, must have a strong role in the governance of the Union system. They are the only entities mandated and instructed to act in the interest of all Member States and they are the guardians of transparency, of fairness and of democracy in the Union.

In the European Union we have institutions where the Member States are represented, namely the European Council and the Council.

But we also have institutions of an innovative, supranational nature: the democratically elected European Parliament; the European Commission; the European Court of Justice; the European Central Bank; the Court of Auditors.

It is precisely these supranational institutions that are the best guarantee for the respect of the agreed principles and rules in a union of sovereign states. Because the sovereign states entrust the institutions with certain powers but also with the mandate to uphold the best interests of all its members. Bigger – or smaller.

It is precisely these supranational institutions that have the independence and objectivity to ensure that all Member States – those in the Euro area and those outside – are treated equally before the Treaties.

It is precisely these institutions that are entrusted to take some decisions outside the realm of political bargaining. Thus ensuring that financial stability cannot be held hostage to politics.

This is the meaning of the role of the Commission as economic government of the European Union in the fields of the Union competencies. This is the reason why we have decided to create and independent European Central Bank.

At a time when Europe is completing its monetary union with an economic union, and at a time when convergence and discipline are increasing, the independent and objective role of the institutions is more necessary than ever.

It is in this perspective that in the upcoming discussions regarding the deepening of European integration, including through possible changes to the European Union Treaties, the Commission will steadfastly uphold its role as guarantor of the interests of the European common good, the general interest of Europe, including of course the interest of all our Member States. And we will defend the integrity of the single market and the integrity of the single currency. The EU as a whole and the Euro area belong together and should not be divided.

The Commission welcomes - and urges, in fact we have been asking for a long time - a deeper integration of policies and governance within the Euro area. Such integration and convergence is the only way to enhance discipline and stability and to secure the future sustainability of the Euro. In other words we have to finish the unfinished business of Maastricht – to complete the monetary union with a truly economic union.

But stability and discipline must also go together with growth. And the single market is our greatest asset to foster growth.

Let me be clear - a split union will not work. This is true for a union with different parts engaged in contradictory objectives; a union with an integrated core but a disengaged periphery; a union dominated by an unhealthy balance of power or indeed any kind of directorium. All these are unsustainable and will not work in the long term because they will put in question a fundamenta, I would say a sacred, principle – the principle of justice, the principle of the respect of the quality, the principle of the respect of the rule of law. And we are a Union based on the respect of the rule of law and not on any power or forces.

It would be absurd if the very core of our project – and economic and monetary union as embodied in the Euro area is the core of our project – so I say it would be absurd that this core were treated as a kind of "opt out" from the European Union as a whole. No, the euro area is not an "opt out" from the European Union. In fact all the European Union should have the euro as its currency. So the challenge is how to further deepen Euro area integration without creating divisions with those that are not yet in it.

Let us recall that whilst two Member States – only two Member States – negotiated an "opt out" from the monetary union, the Treaties foresee accession to the Euro area both as an obligation and as a right for all others. Provided that the conditions are met, of course.

That requires strict verification. Stricter than in the past. But to create the idea now that we have two unions in Europe means disunion, means, in fact, a separation of the members of the euro area from those who are not yet members of the euro area. Let's take a country like Poland. They have already stated very clearly that they want to join the euro as soon as all the criteria are met. So why should we now put more conditions for the countries that want to be in the core of the European project feel that they are left some time behind. I don't think it is fair for those countries.

So let us be clear: the Treaties don't define the Euro area as something that is distinct from the European Union. The Treaties define the Euro area as the core of the European Union.

Belonging to the Euro area or striving into the Euro area should constitute European Union normality – not belonging to it is the derogation from the rule.

It would be absurd if the part of our integration that is deepest on the substance would be lightest on the form.

The difficulties we face today have not been caused by the respect of the Community method, but rather by the lack of respect for it. The truth is that economic and monetary union is ultimately incompatible with the logic of pure inter-governmentalism: because economic and monetary union requires commitments, rules and respect of commitments and rules going beyond mere peer pressure or mere cooperation among governments. And those rules cannot be subject to the unstable logic of political influence or manoeuvring, of diplomatic negotiation or of backroom bargaining.

And this means that the deepening of the Euro area integration including by Treaty change must preserve the EU's political, legal and institutional coherence. This means that the deepening of the Euro area integration must be done through the Community method, preserving and developing the role of the Community institutions.

But already in the terms of the current Treaty the European Union can go further in this direction and this direction is indeed necessary.

Before the end of this month, the Commission will come forward with a package of further measures to deepen European Union and Euro area economic governance.

This will include the following five elements:

  • First, a co-decision regulation linking EFSF and ESM assistance with country surveillance, on the basis of article 136 of the Treaty. By placing the governance of the Euro area within the overall Treaty framework, and thereby in the Community method, this would ensure the legal and institutional coherence and the compatibility between the Euro area and the EU as a whole. This regulation will, on the one hand, provide an interface between financial assistance under the EFSF and the future ESM - the nature of which as you know is intergovernmental - and also Treaty-based surveillance on the other. It will step up surveillance for euro Member States receiving precautionary assistance and assistance under an adjustment programme, and will also ensure post-programme surveillance.

  • Second, we are going to present a further co-decision regulation on deeper fiscal surveillance, also on the basis of article 136 of the Treaty. For euro area Member States in excessive deficit procedure, it will set out graduated steps and conditions for monitoring national budgetary policies. It should enable the Commission and the Council to examine national draft budgets ex-ante and to adopt an opinion on them before adoption by the national parliaments, requesting a second reading in serious cases. In addition, the Commission will monitor budget execution and, if necessary, suggest amendments in the course of the year.

  • Thirdly, we will present a communication on the external representation of the euro on the basis of article 138 of the Treaty. The crisis continues to show that the euro area needs to speak with one voice in international institutions and fora. We otherwise risk diluting our messages and our credibility. The more we improve our internal Euro area economic governance the more pressing is also the need for a strong and efficient external representation of the Euro area. Does anyone know that the Euro area Member States taken together are the biggest contributor to the IMF? Most people don’t know that precisely because we do not appear as the euro, we appear as different Member States in different constituencies. That is why the Commission will make proposals towards a more consolidated European voice and representation in international fora and institutions such as the IMF.

  • Fourthly, we will present (I know this is controversial) a green paper on euro stability bonds. As I said in my State of the Union speech in the Parliament on 28 September, once the euro area is fully equipped with the instruments necessary to ensure both integration and discipline, the issuance of joint debt will be seen as a natural and advantageous step for all. On condition that such Eurobonds will be "Stability Bonds": bonds that are designed in a way that rewards those who play by the rules, and deters those who don't. Our Green Paper on euro stability bonds will present the options for the joint issuance of bonds in the euro area, together with further steps of reinforced economic governance options that would need to be developed depending precisely on the different options. Some of them can be implemented within the current Treaty, whereas fully fledged 'Eurobonds' would of course require Treaty change.

  • The fifth and last element of our economic governance package will be the 2012 Annual Growth Survey. Against the backdrop of a waning economic recovery in Europe, the Annual Growth Survey will set out the priorities for policies towards more growth and jobs in the European Union.

It is also the starting point for the second European Semester which is our framework for monitoring and coordinating fiscal and economic policies at European level. The Annual Growth Survey will assess progress in the implementation of national commitments during this year in the framework of country-specific recommendations and under the Euro Plus Pact, and help with the preparation of next year's economic policies.

In addition to these upcoming initiatives (I am sorry they are rather technical, but they are extremely important if we really want to have convergence and discipline in the Euro area) I announced some days ago that I had decided to entrust Commissioner Olli Rehn with a reinforced status as Commission Vice-President for economic and monetary affairs and the Euro.

Having a Commissioner especially dedicated to the Euro shows our determination to have Euro governance take place inside the community institutions and in respect with the community method. The political and symbolic importance of this measure could not be clearer and is furthermore underpinned by internal Commission arrangements which will reinforce the structural guarantees of fully independent and objective decision-making.

Let me tell you very frankly, ladies and gentlemen, after seven years now in Brussels in the Commission, that one thing we don’t need in Europe is more institutions and more agencies and more entities to manage the euro. We don’t need more. One of the problems we have sometimes, also in terms of communication, is the very complex and not only complex but complicated system. If we are not happy with the way this institution or that institution works, we have to correct it. We have means to do it, using precisely the institutional framework - we have the European Parliament that is directly elected. But the idea that we solve problems creating every time a new institution, is an idea that will make things more opaque, more time consuming, less coherent and less readable for the common citizens, and precisely we want to make our Europe better understood also from our citizens and from the rest of the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Deepening convergence and integration of the European Union must also involve deeper democracy. And I know the debate that is taking place here in Germany. I am afraid I could not listen to all the comments by President Lammert, but I am sure that I would have agreed with everything he said, because we share the same values for democracy and for Europe. I think democracy must be deepened at national level but also at European level and this is indeed an extremely challenging task.

Let me tell you that: to have a democracy at European level, it is indeed very complex, but I am sure that all of you and also you, President Lammert, will agree that even at national level consolidating democracy is sometimes not without difficulties.

I believe that European democracy must be furthered by enhancing the relationship between national democratic processes and the European democratic process. This will be the best way to involve our citizens in the decisions we take. The Community approach will continue to be essential in this by ensuring the principle of subsidiarity. That is a democratic principle.

Our Union is – and will remain for the time to come – a creation "sui generis". Its constitution and its action cannot be measured by the criteria of the nation state. And it cannot be measured by the criteria of an international organisation.

The European Union is a new creation for a new reality. This means that we cannot – as it is sometimes done – oppose the national democratic processes to the European democratic process. We cannot substitute national democracies with the European democratic process. Nor can we replace the European democratic process with the national ones. We need both for the Union to work in a way that is seen as a legitimate way by our citizens.

This is the essence of the Community method, of the "Gemeinschaftsmethode". In the domain of the judiciary, your "Bundesverfassungsgericht" has found a good term to describe the co-existence of the national judiciary with the European judiciary: they call it a cooperative relation, a "Kooperationsverhältnis".

I think that it is well worth reflecting on the transposition – mutatis mutandis, of course – of this idea to the relationship between the national and the European legislatives. Both have their spheres in which they are irreplaceable. I repeat: irreplaceable. Neither can substitute the other. Both the national democracy and the European democracy have to respect each other.

It is well worth investing into such a "Kooperationsverhältnis", rather than postulating a competitive relation, a "Konkurrenzverhältnis".

I emphatically disagree with the assertion that democracy is only possible within the limits of a nation state. I know that some people think like that. They are completely wrong. They have not yet understood that they are living in the 21st century – a world of globalisation. Globalisation and the crisis we are going through shows us the limits of democracy if it is confined to the nation state. Of course our first political community of reference is our country. This is normal. But to think that we can only solve the difficult issues we have at stake in our countries and not to accept the principles of democracy for the wider Europe, it will be a mistake, because it will mean that we will not use the tools of democracy to solve questions at our European dimension.

If we want to preserve democracy also for the global order, we need to complement the democracy of the nation state with the democracy of the European Union. Otherwise, we will hand over material sovereignty, the real sovereignty, to markets; it will no longer be the sovereignty of our Member States, it will be the sovereignty of the markets, the sovereignty of financial speculators, the sovereignty of global operators not subject to any kind of democratic scrutiny. That is why we need strong European democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the last months, Germany has been called to demonstrate this drive for Europe more than ever before and perhaps more than any other country in the European Union. In the face of tremendous pressure – and sometimes criticism - Germany must take its responsibilities seriously.

Yet, such responsibility can be a heavy weight. It can divide opinion.

Especially when Germany must also bear this weight for a long period of time.

The path towards a more prosperous and sustainable Europe, let’s be honest, is far from over. I have been using (it was a coincidence) a Greek expression: “This is not a sprint, it is a marathon”. It is a marathon. We have to be prepared for a marathon to test our resilience, our commitment. There will be no miracles.

So, just as the founding fathers of Europe had a vision after the two devastating world wars, we must also now act with resilience and with vision towards a Europe that is strong but open. That is prosperous and sustainable. And that continues to offer our citizens peace, prosperity and opportunities for generations to come.

Now is Germany’s time to show that it is fighting the cause of a strong, integrated, competitive, united Europe.

Now is Germany's time to uphold the principles that underpin the European Union and most especially the democratic legitimacy and transparency that come from the Community approach.

Over the last 18 months, the European Union, and in particular the economic and monetary union has started to undergo a process of wholesale renovation. We have made mistakes, but we are not staying where we were.

Germany is making a very important contribution in terms of the financial guarantees that it is giving.

Ich möchte Deutschland und den Deutschen für Ihren grossen Einsatz für unser Europa von Herzen danken.

Along the European integration history, Germany has been the biggest contributor in financial terms towards our project. That is why I never miss an opportunity to say thank you.

Yet, let’s be completely frank, there is a paradox. The perception of the outside world is not always in tune with this. And this is something I think very often, because when I see the debate here in Germany, and I compare the debate in Germany with other countries, I see that the perceptions sometimes are almost opposite. Perceptions and misperceptions. So we should ask why this happens. Why Germany, that has been giving the biggest financial contribution to the response to this crisis, is not always perceived as doing precisely that.

If I may offer a thought on this, it is the following.

In politics, the issue is sometimes not what we do but how we do it. It is about explaining and communicating what we truly believe to be in the best interest of our citizens.

This is why the agenda for Europe must be a positive one. It must be about aiming for a higher goal. The agenda for Europe must not be a reluctant intervention to avoid the worst, but an enthusiastic plan to create the best. It must be an agenda based on the idea of the common good.

Four years ago, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, the President of the European Parliament – who was then my dear friend Hans-Gert Pöttering who is hosting us tonight, Chancellor Merkel as the President of the European Council, and myself as the President of the European Commission, we have signed right here the Berlin precisely the Berlin declaration on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Following the negative vote on the constitutional Treaty, I proposed this Declaration as a way of creating a new consensus for a way forward among Member States. You remember that, at that time, some Member States were saying that they did not want a new Treaty. They were opposed to any kind of revision of the Treaties and it was possible to have a new start, a new consensus.

The Berlin Declaration stated a simple yet fantastic truth:

Wir sind zu unserem Glück vereint.

Zu unserem Glück. Das ist wahr. An einem Tag wie dem 9. November ist uns das unmittelbar verständlich. Aber es ist nicht nur am 9. November wahr. Es muss unsere Inspiration für jeden Tag, für unseren Alltag sein.

Wir sind zu unserem Glück vereint.

This is a precious gift, one that we must cherish and preserve, and that requires more than just duty and skill. It requires reason and passion. It requires commitment and – yes – enthusiasm.

As we move forward, as Europe continues to chart its way out of the crisis, my appeal to Germany is this: to show leadership in partnership; to show leadership in the Community spirit. I know that some of the choices we ask our citizens to make are not easy at all. But if we want the Euro to survive and if we want Europe to thrive, they are necessary. And leadership is about making possible what is necessary. To do so in the knowledge and certainty that the actions we take today to transform Europe are the guarantees of peace and prosperity for future generations. Because none of what we have achieved is irrevocable. Everything can be taken away much more rapidly than it was built.

The crisis is far from over. But we have the resources; we have the means, if only we have the spirit and the will.

So let us not look at the challenge before us with a faint heart, but with commitment and conviction. Conviction for a Europe that is prosperous, that is open, that is strong and that shapes global governance in line with European values, and I underline the word values. Values of responsibility, of solidarity, of democracy. If we want Europe to go on being a beacon of hope to people in other parts of the world, we must not let its candle go out. We must be inspired by the soul of Europe. We must breathe life into it again. A breath of hope and of confidence, as it is so exemplarily embodied in our European anthem, Friedrich Schiller's "Ode an die Freude".

Let me tell you that in the recent debate about the euro sometimes I feel very uncomfortable. Some days ago I was together with others in the G20 in Cannes where the discussion about global economy was more a discussion about problems of the Euro area. Once I said to myself (when I was listening to all the leaders from the rest of the world telling Europe what to do) that it is much easier to solve the problems of the others than our own problems. Of course, one thing we have learned in Europe, form its history, and we are a very old continent, a very old civilisation, is that arrogance is the worst form of stupidity. And that is why we listen amply to all the advice. But at the same time we listen to all the advice and most of the advice was very good, I have to say. I was saying to myself the following: yes, we must listen to the advice of the others, but there are some things we don't want to change in Europe. We don't want to apologise because we are democracies, we prefer it to be a democracy, we prefer to take more time for our decisions than to be a dictatorship that would impose decisions on its citizens and we don't have to apologise because we are a social market economy; because we believe that if someone is poor, it is not necessarily because it is his fault; because we believe we should help those who are left behind. So, yes, we have to correct what is not going well in Europe and there are many things that are not going well, but at the same tie I hope that all of us in Europe are able to show the dignity of being Europeans – some pride to be Europeans, not arrogance, but pride to defend our model, to say this the Europe we want and we are ready to defend it. And while we accept lessons of the others, we are able also to propose advice to the rest of the world.

So my final message, ladies and gentlemen, is the following: let us remain loyal to the vision of the founding fathers. Speaking here at the invitation of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, let us not betray the legacy of Konrad Adenauer. Let us live up to their ambition by taking a federative leap forward for a deeper, stronger, united Europe.

Lassen Sie uns also diese Herausforderung mit Freude angehen. Damit auch die nächste Generation der Deutschen und der Europäer sagen kann: Wir sind zu unserem Glück vereint.

Ich danke Ihnen.


Side Bar

Mon compte

Gérez vos recherches et notifications par email


Aidez-nous à améliorer ce site