Speech by Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle at the University of Bonn, 27 April 2010

27.04.2010 - Speech

Professor Fuhrmann,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak here at my alma mater, my university. I am happy to have the opportunity to give a speech on European policy today in this lecture hall, two decades later – it is not something everyone gets to do.

Europe demonstrates quite clearly that a lot can happen in two decades. Not just in the life of an individual, but also when you consider the political developments that have taken place in our country and on our continent.

Ladies and gentlemen, twenty years ago what was known as the European Economic Community had just nine members. Our continent and our own country were divided. Millions of Europeans were denied the right to self-determination and to free speech. And even in the free part of Europe, you had to wait at border crossings and show your passport if you wanted to visit another country. I am mentioning this because young people today tend to take for granted how we live now. However, it is not something that should be taken for granted. When I was a student, this was a completely different continent. Back then we lived on a continent where we never could have imagined that we would one day be able to live, study and travel as freely as we do in Europe today.

Let’s take exchanging money as an example. Travelling from Bonn to Lisbon on holiday meant having to queue three times to exchange currency. At home in Germany, you had marks in your pocket that you exchanged for francs in France, for pesetas in Spain and later for escudos – and of course you had to pay a fee each time. You came back two weeks later with a sack of coins. That was reality. Who could ever have imagined back then that just a generation later you would be able to use the same currency in Bonn and Dublin, or even in Bratislava? At that time it was on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Or that it would be possible to travel from Portugal to Estonia, part of the Soviet Union then, without ever having to show your passport.

Back when I was a schoolboy and university student, Europe was already a unique, successful reconciliation and peace project. But the statesmen of this era had enough foresight never to pause and to continue deepening European integration.

What Konrad Adenauer and Theodor Heuss began was carried on by Willy Brandt and Walter Scheel, by Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl and Hans-Dietrich Genscher. They deepened European integration, thereby laying the foundation for German and European unification. Today 500 million Europeans from 27 countries live in a common judicial area in peace, freedom and unprecedented prosperity.

In Europe today, during your youth, life is better than at any other time in history.

And yet, it is this Europe that I am very concerned about.

The European Union has reached a critical point in its history.

In my view, Europe faces serious challenges, internal as well as external.

Nothing could be more dangerous than the illusion that we could in future simply leave European policy to manage itself.

For our generation as well, Europe remains a political and social challenge.

Today the European Union is a source of discontent for far too many of its own citizens.

Just remember the European parliamentary elections. In the European elections last year, voter turnout across Europe was 43%, an all-time low. It has consistently declined in every election since the first direct election held in 1979.

We are dealing with a paradox that should give pause to anyone who is interested in Europe.

In 1979, 63% of eligible voters went to the polls to elect a European Parliament that only served in an advisory function; it did not have the power to make any decisions. Thirty years later the European Parliament plays a crucial role in European law-making. For example, there can be no European Commission without its approval. And what has happened? The majority of voters stay home.

Or take the referenda on the European treaties, you know which specific referenda I am talking about. In recent years they have often resulted in a vote of no confidence against Europe as a whole.

That on its own would be enough cause for concern, but on top of it all, you read about trouble in the newspaper every day, such as the problems in Greece.

Greece and many Europeans’ internal rejection of the idea of Europe are just part of the problem we face. Nowadays the challenges Europe faces are both internal and external. It is no longer a given that Europe will be a winner in global competition.

Europe is not the only continent to dream the dream of prosperity for all. New, dynamic actors are emerging all around us, as are economic blocs and free trade zones based on the model of the European Union. That was something that left a major impression on me during trips to Latin America, Asia and the Gulf states. And I would like to tell you a bit more about what else left an impression on me there.

These are young societies, societies that are hungry for progress, for competition, of course also because they want to live in greater prosperity. Allow me to mention just a few figures. In Brazil, a good quarter of the population is under 15, in South Africa nearly 30 percent is under 15 compared with our country where the proportion of the population under 15 is not even 14 percent. At the same time, European societies are aging.

Europe is not contributing to the world’s demographic boom. Every year the world population grows by almost 80 million people, that is nearly equivalent to Germany’s population. In Europe, however, birth rates have stagnated or are even declining. As a result of this development, Europe’s clout on the world stage is diminishing.

It is estimated that by 2050, just think about that for a minute – in 2050 you will surely still be alive and well – the world population will exceed 9 billion people. By that time, the proportion of Europeans will have sunk to just 7% of that figure. The decline is even more dramatic when you look at the number of working-age Europeans.

In Germany when we talk about demographic change, we mean the debates that take place against the background of our social security system, pensions and much more. When we talk about demographic development though, we should really also talk about demographic development around the world. It presents us with new, major challenges. How long do we think it will take these young, dynamic societies to achieve their aspirations of becoming the political, cultural, academic and spiritual, rather than just economic, centres of the world? When you consider these examples, it becomes clear that Europe cannot afford just “more of the same”.

On the contrary. Domestic indifference and external competition present a challenge for us.

Will Europe ever be an issue that those of you gathered here in this room and all citizens of Europe care deeply about? Will we succeed in ensuring that the ideas of individual freedom and universal human rights, ideas that were developed in Europe over centuries, remain powerful and also spread around the world? For globalization is not just the globalization of industry; in truth, it is also the globalization of values, the rule of law, of values systems, of ethical standards. Will we maintain our status, or even improve it, despite making up a declining portion of the world population? Can we seize the opportunity presented by emerging markets outside of Europe?

I believe there are three major tasks we must master together over the next few years in order to be able to answer all of these questions with “yes”.

First, we must complete Europe’s internal integration.

Second, we must secure the stability of the economic and monetary union, and thereby also our prosperity, in the long run.

And third, we must ensure that Europe speaks with one voice on the world stage.


A single Europe has not yet been truly achieved. Europe is not yet complete, though sometimes the impression might be given that it is. Many people still feel, for example, that we are closer to France than to Poland – and of course I don’t mean geographically – that France belongs more to Europe than Poland does. I learned very early on from Hans-Dietrich Genscher, from Klaus Kinkel and others that Europe – the European Union – is called the European Union and not the West European Union. But have we really internalized this, ladies and gentlemen?

We still have a long way to go before achieving true pan-European unity. A Frenchman sees himself first and foremost as a Frenchman, a Bulgarian as a Bulgarian, a Pole as a Pole.

And just as it is completely natural to feel that you are both German and from the Rhineland, it must become completely natural to feel and view oneself as a European as well.

The emphasis is on “as well”. Because it would be totally unrealistic to downplay or to try to eliminate the traditional differences in Europe. We have experienced history differently and we have experienced life differently. In Latvia or Poland, Russia is viewed differently than it is in Frankfurt an der Oder. And the difference is even greater in Frankfurt am Main or in Bonn. Established traditions in the countries of Europe must be respected rather than ignored.

This has nothing to do with the alleged division of Europe into “old” and “new”. There have been differences of opinion in the past and there will be differences of opinion in the future, too.

Competing ideas are the foundation of the democracy enjoyed within the member states of the European Union and it is right and important to encourage these competing ideas between the member states, too.

Differences among the countries of Europe are a fact, but they are not a weakness. They make Europe a diverse continent.

I have just come from a meeting with my colleagues, the foreign ministers of France and Poland, which was held last night and this morning in Bonn. This cooperation, the Weimar Triangle as it is known, goes back to a meeting between Foreign Ministers Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Roland Dumas and Krzysztof Skubiszewski. It took place in Weimar and has been known since 1991 as the Weimar Triangle. Today Germany is working with both France and Poland, which suffered so terribly from German crimes in the 20th century, on European issues. Even if all Europe brought us was this peace, it would already have constituted a great benefit to everyone.

The Weimar Triangle demonstrates that Germany is firmly anchored in the west, and also stands for the reconciliation and integration of Europe with the east.

Today greater understanding between Germans and Poles is just as essential to the European Union’s success as the friendship between the Germans and the French. For this reason, since entering office I have attached great importance to ensuring that the idea of reconciliation was always at the centre of the German discussion on the planned European Centre Against Expulsions. If you imagine yourself in the place of these countries, this takes on a much greater meaning than is often reported or felt or discussed in Germany.

Just a little over a week ago, I was in Krakow for the funeral service for the late President. Of course I was also deeply moved by this final farewell to Lech Kaczynski and his wife. I know that the thoughts of many Germans are with their Polish neighbours at this difficult time in the wake of the horrible tragedy. The people of Germany offer their sincere condolences and deepest sympathy. This is the sense of community that is possible in today’s Europe.

Our friendship with France is firmly anchored in our hearts and minds. I would like to achieve the same in our friendship with Poland. I paid my first official visit as Foreign Minister to Warsaw. I went to Warsaw first and then to France, not to demonstrate a reversal of our relations, but rather as a special recognition of the necessity of deeply friendly relations with our eastern neighbours. Poland and the other member states in Central and Eastern Europe are looking to Germany with great expectations and high hopes – that is something they should be able to count on.

And yet we are looking ahead. Europe does not end at the borders of the European Union. Decisive steps are being taken in the western Balkans to become part of the European Union. We have observed gestures of reconciliation there in recent weeks and months that for years were completely unimaginable. The fact that such gestures are possible today is also due in large part to the prospect these countries have of becoming part of the European Union.

In the case of Turkey as well, the agreements reached with the European Union are valid. Turkey has a right to fair negotiations and agreements being honoured.

Dialogue and partnership shape relations with our neighbours east of the EU’s borders. This is also true for Ukraine. And it is especially true for the strategic partnership with Russia. Europe as a whole has everything to gain from integrating Russia as closely as possible into our European partnership. Good neighbourliness is not about exclusion, good neighbourliness requires trust and cooperation.

For centuries, relations between the countries of Europe were dominated by conflict and war. Yet they found their way to a peaceful reconciliation of interests. It is this model of cooperation that has shaped Europe, in contrast to models of confrontation. We must ensure that this model of cooperation consistently wins out over other models around the world.

The countries of the EU meet around the negotiating table in Brussels, each with a seat and a vote, large and small states side by side. For Europe’s inner unity, equal rights for all EU member states are a sine qua non. They are a cornerstone of European integration. Because we live in a country that represents the largest economy in Europe, it is important that we understand this and act accordingly. There are no important and less important states. Europe is a project shared by all its member states, be they large, medium-sized or small.

Also in the EU, though we work closely together in Brussels day in, day out, we need to nurture our bilateral relations. A strong relationship based on trust is key to open debate.

You have to picture the fact that Germany has nine direct neighbours. This bestows upon Germany a particular responsibility to bear the interests of all member states in mind. This holds true for the hard graft to reach compromises in the EU and in international bodies like the G20 where not all have a seat at the table. We have to work on the coordination processes between the Europeans in the run up to such meetings. The word G20 demonstrates just how much the world has changed in the past twenty years. When I was a student, it was the G7. Today we’re talking about the G20 and countries that we naturally considered “developing countries” when I was your age are now sitting at the negotiation table with us on equal footing.

But good cooperation between governments is only one building block in a partnership. Mutual understanding between the people is at least as important. In other words, Europe does not work if it is a Europe of governments, politicians or parliaments. It will only work when it is a Europe of the people, also, incidentally, a Europe of young people. A political partnership can therefore only work when societies grow closer together in the long term.

The Franco-German Youth Office, for example, which at that time was based in Bad Honnef, is an institution whose work had a lasting effect on me and my generation. It may seem inconceivable for some of you but when we were camping in Brittany in the 1970s it was more than possible as a young German to be confronted with considerable and clear prejudice on account of what Germany had done to our neighbours and the world and of its dreadful past.

This makes the process launched in the meantime all the more valuable. We are talking here not just about a political task but one that takes in culture and education policy. That is why we want to set up a regional network of more than 250 German partner schools in eastern Europe. We want to step up exchange between young potentials for example from the world of business. That is the networking, the growing together of societies that I am talking about.

In the 1980s, hardly anyone went to England or France to study for a couple of semesters. Today, it is completely normal to study in another European country. Erasmus and Socrates are amongst the most successful education programmes of all time. In the first year 1987/88, 650 students from Germany took part, ten years later it was almost 14,000 and another ten years on more than 23,500. Since the programmes were conceived, almost 2 million people across Europe have participated. So when we are talking about Europe we also need to talk about what we have achieved.

Long gone are the days when people only thought of the Sorbonne, or Oxford and Cambridge. It is time to think of the Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe. It is time to think of the German-language Andrássy University in Budapest or the College of Europe in Natolin near Warsaw.

Investing in one’s own education of course also means investing in the future of Europe, our continent of peace.


We still have a long way to go before we achieve Europe’s complete inner unity. This holds true not just for European societies growing closer together, but also for the cradle of European integration, for cooperation within the economic union. And it holds true above all for monetary union.

This brings me to the second major challenge facing Europe.

I am talking about the future of our shared currency, the future of the euro. The euro is the linchpin of the entire economic and monetary union. The concern about the stability of the euro is one of the most pressing for the citizens of our country and this is a concern I take very seriously and one that we should take very seriously.

Today Greece is in a difficult situation and Greece’s problems can impact the entire Eurozone. Many of these problems are home-grown. For years the truth about the country’s situation was covered up and we are feeling the effects today. On the other hand maybe people didn’t look often and carefully enough. Perhaps monitoring duties were not performed properly. But it isn’t about finger pointing. It is about overcoming the crisis.

We are ready to do justice to our responsibility for our currency and of this each and every citizen in Germany can be sure. To my mind, it is only with a stable currency that we can secure prosperity and guarantee social justice.

But we aren’t handing out blank cheques. It is no response to the crisis if tax-payers in Europe have to foot the bill for the mistakes of others as a matter of course, as it were. That is why Greece has to do its homework. Assistance can only be the last resort if we have to protect our currency.

Greece faces a period of hard and austere cuts. I want to say quite clearly that I have the utmost respect for Prime Minister Papandreou’s courageous and resolute consolidation policy. In his difficult task and in the adopted reforms he can be sure, I believe, of our support.

But one thing is clear. We want the European Union but we don’t want a transfer union with Germany footing the bill.

Above and beyond the current crisis, the example of Greece illustrates the strengths and the weaknesses of the economic and monetary union.

Particularly in the crisis the strengths become clear. The euro and the internal market have prevented protectionism and currency speculation against individual states exacerbating the crisis further. The member states of the EU do not have to tackle this crisis alone.

There can be no doubt that we need to make drastic adjustments in the Eurozone. There must not be a repetition of what we are currently seeing in Greece. Europe can only have a future as a community based on solidarity if everyone also perceives Europe as a community of responsibility.

We want to see to it that we do not just go back to business as usual after the debates of recent weeks and the decisions which will perhaps be on the agenda. We have to draw robust consequences from what has happened. We need many more checks and stricter rules. That is why we need greater rights for EUROSTAT, the European statistical office. We need a monitoring system for budget and current account deficits and we want to strengthen the stability pact.

Each and every country in the Eurozone needs solid public finances in the long term. I believe it is right for a country to prove what it is doing to this end. At the end of the day, we have all agreed debt cannot exceed 60% of GDP. This debt ceiling needs to be better protected. To this end, we agreed in Germany across party lines to include the debt brake in the Basic Law, our Constitution. Perhaps our partners will find different solutions. All that matters is that they work.

Deficits and economic policy are no longer purely national matters in the Eurozone. If deficits spiral out of control and economic policy continues to be conducted in an irresponsible manner, the entire Eurozone is put at risk. If the policy of one state weakens the euro so much that the remaining euro states can do nothing but react, they are hostages to fortune. Then there is no scope for independent economic policy and this is a situation no one in Europe can want.

That is why we need to formally agree what happens when a state continues to break the rules to which it had subscribed. We have a shared responsibility for our shared currency. The states that respect the rules have to have protection from being damaged by a state that does not live up to its responsibility.

If a country fails to deal with its deficit on its own is it asking too much for its government to present the draft budget first to the Eurogroup and then to the national parliament? Is it asking too much if the opinion presented by the Eurogroup is not merely advice but in fact binding? What happens if the state still fails to comply? Should we then send a “saving commissioner”? Or should the member state then perhaps lose its voting right? We need to discuss these questions with the utmost candour. We can’t afford taboo subjects. Everyone is right to expect answers and I want to state quite clearly: the good European ensures above all else that Europe is stable. That is the prime European task. And not just for the moment, for the month or for the year but in the long term. In the interest of us all. And very clearly also in the interest of the young generation.

The crisis shows again that the stability of the euro does not just depend on deficits. The stability pact criteria have not been enough in this current crisis.

The example of Greece shows the existential problems triggered by current account deficits in times of crisis. And these are not long coming. In fact they came at a breathtaking speed that surely couldn’t have been expected. We need to think about how to watch current accounts more carefully.

We need to keep a closer eye on differences in competitiveness. Stark current account imbalances are warning signals for the stability of the economic and monetary union.

But do we really want less competitiveness to be declared a political goal? Can we strengthen Europe by intentionally weakening the strong economies?

Europe’s economies are so closely interlinked today that the internal market does not just need the same conditions for example in protection standards or competition law. Looking to the long term, Europe will have to better coordinate national economic policies. I emphasize here that I am talking about voluntary coordination but also binding agreements. We do not need an economic government. But simply carrying on as before is impossible if we want the monetary union to be a success in the interest of all the citizens.

At first glance this may look like more state and more bureaucracy. And, as you know, I’m certainly not one for advocating that. Is it necessary for the budgets of the member states to be monitored by the Commission? Or by joint committees of participating states? If all states live up to their responsibility towards their partners, it is not necessary. But those not sticking to the agreed rules are in the long term harming all, but of course first and foremost themselves. How can a country call upon its citizens to assume responsibility when it is not sufficiently prepared to do so itself?

Only as a community of responsibility is the European Union a community with a future.

In economic terms Europe will hold its own in the future if we remain ahead in global competition. Europe needs to keep focusing on innovation and technology. After all, the workbenches of globalization are now mainly beyond Europe’s shores even if some people are in denial.

What we have and what we need to keep building are the ideas for technological progress. Europe needs to keep developing ideas and converting them into economic dynamism right here. Do remember what I said at the start about the demographic development of societies around the world.

I say this with great confidence. I say this with great pride for what Europe has achieved. But I also say this because I am concerned about how we are going to maintain these achievements. The European solidarity model where the strong help the weak in times of crisis is a model worth fighting for. And let me say, ladies and gentlemen, the best way of defending the welfare state and solidarity in Germany and Europe is ensuring it is not robbed of its economic basis.

In the Lisbon Agenda, the EU formulated the goal of creating the most competitive economy in the world. These goals have unfortunately not been reached. But that doesn’t mean we should sit back and relax. That means we have to step up our efforts and when I say we, I mean all of us together. This is the only way to tap Europe’s growth potential and create new prosperity for all.

For this we need more education, more science. Innovation needs to be made easier not more difficult. And, as we all know of course, we need to invest in the bright minds of tomorrow and not in the dark coal shafts of yesteryear. We need key technologies such as electro mobility, climate-neutral energy supplies, nano and medical technologies and many, many more. We need scientists and engineers who want to use their ideas to shape the world of tomorrow.

In June we plan to adopt a joint strategy for growth and jobs in the European Union, the “EU 2020” strategy. We need to be more ambitious, we need to join forces to ensure we actually reach the goals we set.

Turning to a European discussion of recent months, there has been criticism that demand in Germany is too low and that this is exacerbating the imbalance in the internal market. I take this criticism seriously. If Germany increases demand at home, this helps even out structural imbalances in the monetary union. This is not going to be easy given the high level of public debt. Politicians do not increase demand. In reality, demand increases when the people have more money in their pockets and are confident enough to create demand.

And this is precisely where I would need to talk about domestic policy but out of consideration for you I’m not going to.


The third challenge facing Europe, ladies and gentlemen, is the question of its future foreign policy role, of Europe’s role as a global player.

Only together will we be able to master the challenges of the present, many of which will remain challenges in the future. Climate change, the question of resource and energy security, terrorism and natural disasters are not going to disappear from our agenda. Together we can work to promote free trade, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, defend human rights and foster good governance. Together we can use the political and economic opportunities that globalization presents. Globalization needs more Europe not less.

The better we are dovetailed and the more able we are to act, the more credibly and resolutely we can make our voice heard.

For this we need a strong, united and self-confident EU. We want an EU that plays an active role in the world and lives up to its responsibility. Europe’s model for integration and cooperation needs to feed its wealth of experience into globalization.

The Treaty of Lisbon has created the institutional framework for the EU to play a more decisive role on the world stage.

The European Union’s external relations are being pooled. That is what is behind the debates we conducted yesterday in Luxembourg about the so called European External Action Service. The Service will have a major impact, not somewhere down the line in 30 years but very soon. The European External Action Service now stands beside national diplomatic services. This is not the end of national diplomacy but a necessary and important addition. The member states continue to play a key role in shaping the EU’s external relations. But we must speak with one voice so we are better heard. At the Climate Summit in Copenhagen we did not achieve what we wanted to achieve. This was due mainly to the resistance of non-European players who clearly didn’t want results in Copenhagen. But it was also because we failed to make our shared voice heard even though there was agreement in Europe on the central issues.

The Treaty of Lisbon also increased the scope of the European Security and Defence Policy. Progress is possible even if not all EU member states are prepared to get involved and get on board. The Treaty of Lisbon opens the way for enhanced cooperation between some EU member states. For example, EU states can develop the European vision of common defence. For me it is clear that an EU with 27 member states needs such models if it wants to remain open to enlargement.

I am not talking about excluding countries or forming axes. It is always better if all member states move forward together. European solutions must continue to be discussed and decided together. The aim remains the deeper integration of the entire EU.

I believe more common ground on defence policy makes Europe stronger. If we want to preserve and extend freedom at home, we have to be able to counter attacks from outside. Terrorism is the threat we face today. In future we will face challenges we cannot even dream of today. For these too, we need to be prepared. And when you see the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference starting in New York next week, you need to remember that nuclear non-proliferation has two essential pillars. Two sides of the one coin. On the one hand, nuclear non-proliferation as there is a danger that we may have twice the number of nuclear-weapon states by the end of this decade. With the ensuing risk that also irrational forces, that terrorists can get their hands on such weapons. But non-proliferation has a second pillar and that is disarmament. Quite clearly also nuclear disarmament. And you can’t see one without the other. Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament are two sides of the one coin and if we are to enjoy peace we must see both.

Today in the Weimar Triangle we launched an initiative together with my Polish and French colleagues to improve crisis response and command capabilities.

The long-term goal is to build a European army subject to full parliamentary control. The European Security and Defence Policy can serve as a motor for Europe growing closer together.

Europe’s role in the global system is a source of concern for many citizens. I think this expresses above all the loss of control in the face of a complex global situation whose threats are coming closer than ever before and very much define our discussions and concerns. The world has become more open, but also more complicated. The weights of international politics are shifting. The same applies to the world of business. But it also holds true for values and knowledge. Emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil are heavyweights not just economically but also politically and culturally.

These changes in the geopolitical set up are not something I perceive as a threat but as an opportunity. Of course Europe cannot solve the problems of the world single-handedly. The EU needs alliances with key strategic partners, first and foremost with the United States but also with Russia and Brazil, with India, with China and, what is overlooked far too often, with the African Union. Only together with these partners will we be able to make progress in curbing climate change, in the Doha trade round or in regulating financial markets. Only together will we be able to dissuade other states from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The challenges Europe faces are huge. They are different but certainly no smaller than those faced by the generations that have gone before. Europe’s path to a bright future is not mapped out but we want a European path to a bright future. It is up to us to draw the contours together.

I don’t shy away from saying clearly what doesn’t work at all – and you know this yourselves from your own lives – or from saying what doesn’t work well enough yet. We must not paint a distorted picture of Europe. We need a picture of Europe that shows reality as it is. With this in our minds we must stride forth courageously to do what we need to do to finish building Europe.

With the Treaty of Lisbon we have put an end to a decade of institutional paralysis in the European Union. The Treaty of Lisbon is a boon for the citizens. Your voices have not just become louder in Brussels and Strasbourg. In fact, parliaments across Europe have been strengthened and this holds true, let me emphasize, for the European Parliament and for national parliaments.

I have addressed the problems in Europe in such plain language today because I am convinced that we need to know the problems to be able to solve them together. And together we can solve them. When it comes to Europe, I’m an optimist by conviction. And not because I’m from the Rhineland and people living here know what I’m talking about. However, to solve Europe’s problems, you all need to look at what is going on, roll up your sleeves and play your role in decisions. Then we can use the opportunities Europe offers. Europe is first and foremost an opportunity particularly for you all.

Europe is not just a task for Catherine Ashton or José Manuel Barroso or others shouldering responsibility in Germany or Europe regardless of political affiliation. Europe is not a prime and sole responsibility for governments, parliaments and politicians. Europe is your task. It is you yourselves who can define where Europe is going.

You can all write your chapter in Europe’s success story.

The fact that so many of you have come and listened so attentively to these European policy remarks makes me very optimistic that you as the young generation know exactly what Europe means for us. To my mind, there is nothing wrong with occasional shouts of “Long live Europe”.

Thank you very much.

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