“Today, we came together next to the former inner German border. For decades, this line also marked the division of Europe. Ten years ago, we welcomed ten new countries, among them eight countries from Central and Eastern Europe, to the EU and the separation of Europe came to an end.
25 years later, our countries are close partners in an enlarged European Union. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe were at the origin of the change which led to the reunification of the continent. It was the people in the Central and Eastern European countries who stood up courageously and paved the way to freedom and democracy.
These countries have undergone internal reforms and difficult adjustments on the path to freedom, democracy, the rule of law and social market economies. Citizens had to make hard sacrifices but accession to the EU has proven to be a success in every sense – for both sides. With its new members the EU has not only strengthened its political influence but has become culturally richer and more economically prosperous.
Within the format of the Weimar Triangle, we want to reaffirm that Europe is first and foremost a community of values. Defending and strengthening our common values is crucial to our internal and external capacity to act. We need to be reliable internally in order to be credible externally.
In the EU we will do everything we can to improve the instruments we have in order to ensure that our citizens can live in peace and security. We are committed to raising our voices whenever the Union’s values, freedom or the rule of law are threatened.
We are conscious of our particular responsibility for the future of European integration. The June European Council meeting agreed a strategic agenda for the EU for the next 5 years and our countries will do their utmost to achieve its ambitious goals. We reaffirm our common commitment to strengthen the European Union’s internal solidarity, its social cohesion within and between member states as well as its competitiveness. Furthermore, the EU’s functioning needs to be improved to bring it closer to its citizens. The European Union has always been a promise of peace and prosperity. This second pillar has come under threat in the financial and economic crisis. Unemployment in Europe is far too high, a problem which severely affects the young generation in particular. We are therefore determined to fight unemployment, combat social exclusion and discrimination, and to promote growth and social inclusion. Against the background of the current economic and financial conditions, economic growth, investments, employment, social inclusion and competitiveness need to be at the top of the political agenda and at the heart of European action. This is necessary to restore hope and confidence as well as trust in the EU in times of unprecedented challenges in the EU’s neighbourhood.”