Statement EES President Dr Ingo Friedrich

 60 years after the formal signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957 we are witnessing a “double lock” on the existence of the European project: From the outside, there are attacks by important forces in the USA (Trump-advisor Steve Bannon), England (the BREXIT camp) and Russia against the joint Europe that was formed in 1957, in order to dismantle it into its national elements again. From the inside, it is the nationalistic parties in the EU member states that make every effort to reinstall the national states as the sole political level of sovereignty.  

If those two forces, the inner and the outer, were to really be successful and destroyed Europe as a political project, the weeping and gnashing of teeth of all involved would afterwards be great. For it would suddenly be visible what immense stabilising effects the current EU has and what economic and political chaos would be the consequence of it breaking apart.      

We Europeans and Germans should now take all necessary action in order to defend the probably most brilliant project of our history, the peaceful unification of an entire continent, and make it viable for the future. We need a new emotional support of the European unification and a significant strengthening of the European cooperation. Yes, we should learn again to love our common Europe. Maybe a little shyly at first, but then more and more naturally: It is simply wonderful that there is this peaceful and economically successful Europe that respecting human dignity.

Of course, the Europeans do not always do things right, but who does? But a world without Europe, without its message and its values, would be poorer and colder. Where else do people live together so peacefully, open-mindedly and diversely?

Also in the interest of a more peaceful and stable world Europe’s success is indispensable. It serves the people at home and throughout the world if we are a little bit proud of our unique European project and what we have achieved in the past 60 years.  

It is no coincidence that a new civil movement »pulse of Europe« has just been founded, which calls for exactly this emotional support. The people sense that destructive forces want to bring about the collapse of the European work, and they want for exactly this project with all its achievements to be defended and enlarged. We need a better and stronger Europe, but not a relapse into the small-state particularism of the 19th and 20th century.

In order to strengthen Europe a further and relatively difficult learning process: We need to learn and admit that European and national common good cannot always correspond and everywhere. Thus it is obviously unavoidable that the Head of the European Central Bank, Draghi, from a European perspective decides some things differently than the head of the German Federal Bank would. This tension is difficult, but has to be endured. The common European public interest is also of importance, especially in the long run.

By the way, this »lesson« also had to be learned by the Bavarians after the founding of the German Empire 1871. Therefore, us Germans have once before »endured« this difficult learning process (of acceptance of another level of sovereignty), while other (proud) nations like France and Poland have to undergo this learning process for the first time.

Und last but not least: Europe has to have the courage to make tough decisions, even if it »hurts«. This particularly now pertains to the difficult refugee issue, but also to all undertakings to stifle global trade by protectionism, and to a common European position towards Turkey and a unpredictable President Erdogan.  

Europe should not hide its light under a bushel:  It already today has global influence and has the duty to practice this influence globally also in the sense of reason, acumen, and stability. The other major powers like China and Russia, but currently unfortunately also the USA primarily think in terms of their own greatness and the expansion of their own spheres of influence. The world needs the European voice of reason, and the Europeans need the knowledge that there is a European voice that can help as stabilising factor almost in the sense of a global common good. In the world of the 21st century we Europeans have to join forces or otherwise the other major powers will decide our fate as Europeans. Only a united Europe offers the chance of self-assertion in the complex world of the future. Without a strong Europe there is no safe future for us and our children.