German Chancellor Angela Merkel debated the future of Europe with MEPs and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Tuesday.
“Tolerance is the soul of Europe and an essential basic value of the European idea”, Mrs Merkel said. This soul has been strained in recent years however, by many different challenges such as public debt, terrorism, wars being waged close to our continent, migration, digitalisation or climate change.
All of these can only be tackled successfully if Europe acts united and if we “treat the interests and needs of others as our own. Solidarity is based on tolerance and this is Europe’s strength. It is part of our common European DNA and it means overcoming national egoisms”.
Solidarity also means that if you weaken the rule of law in one country or attack freedom of press in one country, you do so in the whole of the EU. She also commented that “if you try to solve problems by making new debts, you disregard commitments made and question the foundations for strength and stability of the Euro area”.
EU to speak with one voice on global stage
To be “heard in a globalised world, Europe needs to grasp its destiny more firmly in its own hands, because the times where we could rely unreservedly on others are over”, said Mrs Merkel. Establishing a real European army, as an addition to NATO, “would show the world that there will never be war again between European countries”.
She also highlighted that economic success, research and innovation are vital for Europe and pointed to the need for reliant Frontex border controls and a common European asylum system.
“Europe is our best chance for peace, prosperity and a good future. We must not let this chance slide; we owe this to ourselves and to past and future generations. Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance to flourish again in Europe. Tolerance and solidarity are our future. And this future is worth fighting for”, she closed.
You can watch the speakers’ interventions by clicking on the links below:
Angela MERKEL, German Federal Chancellor
Jean Claude JUNCKER, Commission President
Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)
Udo BULLMANN (S&D, DE)
Ryszard Antoni LEGUTKO (ECR, PL)
Guy VERHOFSTADT (ALDE, BE)
Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA, DE)
Gabriele ZIMMER (GUE/NGL, DE)
Nigel FARAGE (EFDD, UK)
Marcus PRETZELL (ENF, DE)
Angela MERKEL response
The speech can be found here