Focusing on what holds the EU together

During the WDR Europe Forum in Brussels on 9 May, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle highlighted Europe’s value and its great importance. “These days, when Europe is facing so many challenges, we should increasingly focus on what holds Europe together or what should hold Europe together,” the Foreign Minister urged.

During the crisis it must become clear that Europe is not the problem but the solution, Westerwelle said. No nation state would be able to resolve the current crisis on its own. He went on to say that the discussion must not focus merely on crisis management, fiscal policy and other political issues and instruments, thereby ignoring what Europe is really about, namely growing closer together and developing a vision for Europe’s future. Otherwise it would not be possible to win young hearts and minds for Europe, he said.

Europe as a political project and cultural community

Westerwelle stressed: “Europe is more than a common currency and a single market. Europe is a political project and a cultural community.” He said that we had to learn from the crisis and enable the EU to develop further in as far as this is possible without amending the Treaties. This included making more majority decisions possible under the Treaty of Lisbon, using structural resources more for growth creation and organizing more transparency.

Europe in the world

As regards Europe’s role in the world, Westerwelle declared that it was important to concentrate less on competition between the Europeans. “We Europeans stand together in competition with many other power centres in the world.” According to him, it was important to live up to this challenge today. “When we stand together we are strong and have a strong position in the world,” Westerwelle said. Europe was our insurance for prosperity and cultural identity in the age of globalization.

Debt reduction and growth in Europe

In order to overcome the crisis, the German Government had put its policy on two pillars, he pointed out. The first one was debt reduction, which applied to Germany as well as to the whole of Europe. The second one was growth. The crisis, he said, could only be defused through greater austerity, which meant less debt, on the one hand and a new competitiveness leading to more growth on the other.

Westerwelle underlined the following: “The fiscal compact for less debt is irrevocable.” But it should be accompanied by a growth pact for more competitiveness. Westerwelle announced that he would address this issue in a policy statement in the German Bundestag on 11 May.

The situation in Greece

Westerwelle was concerned about the latest developments in Greece. “Greece’s fate in the euro zone is now in its own hands,” he said. The country itself must now decide which way to go. He reiterated: “We want to help Greece, we want Greece to stay in the euro zone.” Greece was part of Europe. But the country had to know what it was putting at risk by unilaterally calling into question arrangements already signed. “Solidarity is no one-way street,” the Minister declared.

Last updated 09.05.2012

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