Joint declaration by the Foreign Ministers of the Weimar Triangle, Frank‑Walter Steinmeier (Germany), Jean‑Marc Ayrault (France) and Witold Waszczykowski (Poland), on the future of Europe

28.08.2016 - Press release

“We now have a unique opportunity to assume a shared responsibility and to develop the new Europe in the spirit of human solidarity, conscious of our common fate and building on our heritage of shared values. The natural desire of all peoples for democracy, prosperity and security can in the long term only be fulfilled if the whole of Europe combines its strengths to work together.”

Hans‑Dietrich Genscher, Roland Dumas, Krzysztof Skubiszewski

Weimar, 29 August 1991

We, the Foreign Ministers of the Weimar Triangle, have gathered here in Weimar 25 years on from the foundation of the Weimar Triangle to continue the traditions and values associated with “the spirit of Weimar”. We look back with satisfaction and pride on these 25 years of the Weimar Triangle, which, as a trilateral Franco‑German‑Polish forum for discussion and cooperation, has been and continues to be used intensively for political and civil‑society exchange. The accession of Poland and other neighbouring states to the North Atlantic Alliance in 1999 and the European Union in 2004 were historic milestones which testified to our combined strengths.

Since then, the Weimar Triangle has evolved into a major forum for exchange serving the wider cohesion of the enlarged European Union. In recent years the Foreign Ministers of the Weimar Triangle have provided major impetus for European Neighbourhood Policy and enlargement and – together with the Defence Ministers – for the Common Security and Defence Policy. Other ministers meet regularly in the Weimar format too, thus contributing to cohesion in Europe. This year, for instance, there have already been meetings of the Ministers for Europe and of the Ministers of Finance, Economics and Agriculture.

Given the unprecedented challenges facing Europe, we believe there is a need to intensify cooperation and to give it fresh impetus, and it is in this light that we view the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of our countries planned for this year.

On 23 June 2016 the British people voted to leave the European Union. We respect this sovereign decision, although we would have preferred the United Kingdom to stay in the EU. The United Kingdom remains an important European partner. In order to master the common challenges facing Europe in the 21st century, we continue to have a strong interest in close cooperation with the United Kingdom. As soon as the United Kingdom has notified the EU of its intention to withdraw from the Union, we will play our part to help ensure that the negotiations, which will run as specified in the statement by the heads of State and Government dated 29 June, proceed in a constructive manner. Even though the European Union is facing a huge challenge to cohesion in Europe, we remain convinced that it is the natural, indispensable and future-oriented framework for the pursuit of freedom, prosperity and security in Europe, for shaping peaceful relations between its peoples and for helping to ensure peace and stability in the world.

Without calling into question all that has been achieved, we do have to understand the causes of Eurosceptic attitudes. We want to strengthen the European Union and the foundations of European integration by proving its ability to act. We take the expectations, concerns and fears of our citizens seriously and want to demonstrate through tangible results that, in the face of the major challenges of our time, we can achieve more together as the European Union than can individual nation-states in the fields of internal and external security, migration and flight, improving competitiveness, and increasing growth and employment, particularly for young people. Concentrating on essential aspects like this also means leaving other areas to national or regional decision-making processes where this seems a better way to attain our common goals.

We know that there are no quick fixes for the aforementioned challenges. However, we are resolved to tackle them together, in the spirit of renewed mutual confidence, because we are convinced that joint action by all member States remains the best option for our future.

At the same time, by making the best possible use of the existing possibilities under the Treaties, particularly in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, we are aiming to create a more flexible European Union which respects and reflects the varying levels of ambition among member States with regard to further integration. In order to strengthen cohesion within the European Union, we suggest, as Foreign Ministers of the Weimar Triangle, that meetings continue to be held in future in expanded formats, including with the Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group, of which Poland currently holds the chair, as well as with other states.

We want a stronger, more secure Europe with an intensified and more effective Common Security and Defence Policy. We welcome the Global Strategy presented by the High Representative, which aptly describes the strategic context and the dangers confronting the European Union. It identifies the priorities, the objectives and the ways in which we can deliver true strategic independence and a stronger European foreign and security policy which will make the European Union a genuine global player. We must now take the necessary steps to rapidly implement this strategy. We support a substantive follow‑up strategy in the field of security and defence. We advocate an annual meeting of the European Council in the format of a “European Security Council” looking at strategic issues in internal and external security, which are indivisibly linked.

Europe needs to restore confidence on the basis of the OSCE principles. We want the European Union to provide sustainable support for endeavours by our eastern, southern and regional partners towards stability, development and crisis-prevention by conducting projects designed to strengthen resilience and the development of institutional capacities. We share the concept of sustainable, comprehensive, ambitious engagement expressed in the strategy to stabilise the EU’s eastern and southern neighbourhoods. Measures to strengthen our neighbours’ resilience and internal stability will impact favourably on our own security. We believe it necessary to use all articles of the Treaty on European Union, including those which have not been used to date and which give us a huge degree of flexibility, in order to consolidate and intensify our cooperation on defence and to enable us to respond to the entire spectrum of crises.

The European Union, which is currently contributing to peace and stability by participating in eleven civilian and six military missions on three continents, needs European civilian and military planning and command capability in crisis situations. We stress the need for the sustainable development of a strong and competitive defence economy in Europe. Strengthening security and defence policy will also help to strengthen European capabilities in NATO and to implement the decisions on defending the territory of the Alliance as well as transatlantic cooperation on international crisis management. Recognising the importance of the development of the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO, we advocate the complete implementation of the Warsaw Declaration adopted by the EU and NATO on 8 July 2016.

A strong Europe is a Europe which is able both to seize the manifold opportunities inherent in globalisation and at the same time to protect against its negative repercussions, e.g. unemployment and increasing inequalities, and thus to keep its promise to its citizens of prosperity:

- in the field of new technologies and the shift to green energy, economic policy must make new efforts to increase public and private investment to boost jobs and employment;

- as well as developing the internal energy market and promoting energy efficiency and new and renewable energies, there is a need to strengthen joint energy security, for example through flexible regional cooperation in the event of supply problems, as part of an ambitious energy and climate policy designed to implement the Paris Agreement in full;

- structural reforms must be continued, particularly in order to increase Europe’s attractiveness for international investment, and initiatives aimed at accelerating economic convergence and the harmonisation of tax and welfare systems must be implemented in order to make the European Union more competitive;

- with regard to the social dimension, economic governance and its democratic control must be strengthened in order to regain the public’s trust.

With a renewed growth and employment policy, the Union is sending a strong signal to young Europeans who ought to be able to profit more from the advantages of European integration within the framework of ambitious programmes. In this way, the existing measures in the fields of education, entrepreneurial development, mobility and access to the labour market should be intensified.

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