Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to open the Second Berlin Foreign Policy Forum

23.10.2012 - Speech

-- Check against delivery! --

Ladies and Gentlemen,

for Germany, Europe is not one policy option among several. That does have a lot to do with German history. But, more and more, it also has to do with a dramatically changing world.

In that world, Europe is bound together by shared culture and a common destiny. Only together will we be able to safeguard the innovation, the creativity, the free markets and the open trade routes, on which our prosperity depends.

The major challenges we face on the world stage today are ones we can only tackle together. Anyone who believes they can go it alone is just harking back to a bygone age.

India alone will soon have three times the population of the whole European Union put together. In contrast, Germany’s share of the world population will dip below 1 percent in just a few years’ time. Within Europe, Germany may seem like a pretty big fish. In the world as a whole, we’re pretty small on our own. The same is true for the UK, France and Finland. A united Europe forms both the basis and the mission of German foreign policy.

All Europeans, not just those in the eurozone, have an overwhelming shared interest in a strong Europe and a healthy euro. That’s why what we need now is intelligent crisis management that goes right to the roots of the debt crisis. With the fiscal compact, the permanent stability mechanism and the growth pact, we have chosen the right path.

We will remain guided by our threefold objective of sound budgeting, solidarity, and growth in Europe.

The medicine is beginning to take effect. Ireland and Portugal are well on the way to returning to the capital markets.

Good news of this kind doesn’t mean that the crisis is over but we do need to be open to hearing good news once again. This autumn has shown us the beginning of light at the end of the tunnel.

It is therefore all the more essential that we now make the euro fit to weather any future crisis. That’s the message coming from the European Foreign Ministers’ Future of Europe Group.

The same message is coming from the European Council, which is going to be working intensively between now and the December summit on setting a course for the coming years.

The time has come to do for the economic and monetary union what wasn’t possible when it was established. We are going to complete it, by cooperating more closely within Europe on financial, fiscal and economic policy. That is the leap we need to take into European unification of a new quality.

To make it a successful leap, we need to give the people of Europe more of a voice when we transfer new responsibilities to the European level. A Europe without full democratic legitimacy would be a Europe built on sand.

After all, it’s not as if our fellow citizens didn’t know how must of an asset Europe is. The European project’s approval ratings among Germans have gone up, not down, during the last year. But people do want their voices to be heard and to carry weight at the European level.

This is not about simply having more Europe. It is and has to be about better Europe. Part of that is respect for the principle of subsidiarity.

As politicians, for example, we could argue for hours about the right way to ensure equal gender rights. However, I personally do not think that Brussels should be placing appointments its top bodies in the hands of an SME.

In the interests of their own credibility, the European institutions need to have an eye for proportionality here. Similarly, the member states need to fulfil their responsibilities too, and not pass things to the European level that would be better dealt with at home.

The world around us is changing at breathtaking speed. New players aspire to influence as well as a say in the making of international rules. The world won’t wait for Europe to put its house in order.

So our perspective must not be limited to Europe’s internal workings.

What kind of Europe do we need, what kind of Europe will ensure that our values and interests are heeded in world councils?

The next step in the European project has to be more coherence in our foreign and security policy. We need to develop a holistic approach that brings the whole spectrum of European diplomacy together into a strong, single unit. There are four crucial points here:

Firstly, we need to ensure the Brussels institutions become still better at delivering European diplomacy that is consistent across the board.

The review of the European External Action Service due in 2013 should help us make significant headway here.

Secondly, we need to reflect on how our European Security Strategy might be developed further into a broad-based strategy for a globalized world. Ten years after the adoption of the EU’s first Security Strategy, the time for this is ripe. Over the past decade both Europe and the wider world have seen dramatic changes.

Thirdly, we need Europe to respond to the rise of the new global players.

This is about elaborating Europe’s strategic partnerships on the world stage and developing an intelligent division of labour between the EU and the member states. That is what will make Europe into a global actor whose remit goes far beyond trade policy.

Finally, in the Common Security and Defence Policy, too, Europe will assume greater responsibility. Our ally the United States is rightly of the opinion that the time has come for Europe to look after its own security more. That’s not just our duty; it’s absolutely in our own interest. It applies to our neighbourhood to the east and in the Southern Caucasus. It applies to the Western Balkans and Moldova. It also certainly applies to the countries south of the Mediterranean. Coming from Mali, you only need to cross one international border before reaching the Mediterranean. Restoring stability to this neighbouring region is a task that requires joint efforts.

At the end of the road we’re now travelling there will one day have to be a political union. That’s what is needed to make the economic and monetary union complete.

And that’s what’s also needed to make the Common Foreign and Security Policy reality in the fullest sense of the word.

It will take many long years to build this Europe of the future. But even today reflecting on Europe’s post-crisis future is neither luxury nor self-indulgent day-dreaming. Quite the contrary in fact. It will provide us with a new sense of where we’re heading and generate new confidence in Europe. Europe will emerge from the current crisis stronger than before.

So it’s crucial that we conduct the debate on Europe’s future in a focused and pragmatic manner, without ideological blinkers. Everyone is now invited to join forces in building the Europe of the future. Everyone is welcome to contribute their ideas.

However, should some initially feel unable or unwilling to travel this road, that should not and must not prevent others from moving ahead. That was true for freedom of travel in the Schengen area. It was true for the common currency. And it is true now for Common Security and Defence Policy. This is because headway in these areas is clearly of fundamental importance, if the European Union is to be strong and effective.

For us Germans there can be a bright future only in a united Europe. In a globalized world we need this Europe more than ever.

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