Only three years ago, I participated in my first Three Seas Summit in Bucharest. But when you compare the world back then and now, it almost seems as if we are living in a different reality.
Of course, the geopolitical threats have not gone away. On the contrary.
But our response is finally meeting the challenge.
First: The pandemic has not just highlighted our strategic weaknesses. It has also united us behind a common goal: to re‑build a greener, more sustainable and more resilient Europe.
The “European Green Deal” and “Next Generation EU” - with investments of 750 billion euro – speak to that. Germany alone contributes 24 percent - by far the largest share among all EU member states.
The “Three Seas Initiative” - with its focus on connectivity, sustainable economic development and clean energy - can greatly benefit from this joint European endeavour. And I am grateful to the Commission and to Vice-President Vestager for assuring that our efforts are in line with EU programmes.
Secondly, the transatlantic relaunch we have seen in the past few months is an outstanding success. America is indeed back. And we have seized that opportunity.
At the G7 Summit, we agreed on a global plan to boost sustainable recovery after the pandemic. The synergies and similarities with our own plans to trigger greater investments in the Three Seas region are obvious.
At the NATO Summit, we reaffirmed our shared commitment to security and collective defence.
And the EU-US summit has put us on a transatlantic track towards climate protection and an environment that promotes fair trade and investment.
For me, today’s meeting is part of this transatlantic relaunch. And it’s great to see not only Tony Blinken, but also members of Congress and our friends from France, the United Kingdom and Japan participate in it.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These two key developments – Europe’s ambitious recovery plans and the transatlantic relaunch - are wind beneath the wings of our initiative.
So, let me echo what President Steinmeier already stressed at yesterday’s Presidential Panel: Germany stands ready to step up its commitment within the Three Seas Initiative – for instance, by supporting projects in the field of renewable energy.
For us, strengthening connectivity in Central and Eastern Europe is not just an economic consideration. It is a strategic goal, as it will make Europe stronger, more united and more competitive.
Stronger: because Europe can thrive if all of its regions are prosperous and resilient.
More united: because it will decrease inequalities and create opportunities for all of us.
And more competitive: because it will enable Europe to address global challenges more effectively.
Germany is looking forward to working with you for that stronger, united and competitive Europe.
So, thanks to the Bulgarian Chairmanship for its great work!
And lots of success to the incoming Latvian Chairmanship!