My friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Motives and roots of European integration.
Nowadays are those struggling territorial demands, the language and border conflicts which played a major role in the conscience of nations in the first half the 20th century have become de facto meaningless. At least for us Germans.
For us Germans it seems decisive to me that almost all neighbors of Germany – and almost all Jews on the globe – are remembering the Holocaust and the atrocities which happened during the time of occupation of the peripheral countries. We Germans are not sufficiently aware of the fact that almost all our neighbors are still having suspicions against us for many generations to come.
Churchill had two motives in 1946 when he called the French in his great speech of Zurich to reconcile with the Germans and establish the Unites States of Europe together with them: First of all the common defense of the threatening appearing Soviet Union but secondly the weaving in of Germany in a greater western Union. Because Churchill foresaw wisely the re empowerment of Germany.
As 1950 four years after Churchills speech, Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet came forward with the Schuman -planCharles de Gaulle who ten years later offered his hand reconciliation to Konrad Adenauer acted out of the same motive.
At this point I allow myself a little excursion. I listened to Jean Monnet when I participated at Monnets committee “pour les États-Unis d’Europe“. That was 1955. For me Jean Monnet remained one of the most forward minded French which I encountered in my life – on the subject of integration by the way also out of his concept of small step approach to European integration.
The European Union is necessary
De Gaulle and Pompidou have continued the European integration in the 1960s and early 1970s to weave in Germany – but they were not to commit their own state whatsoever. After that the good relationship between Giscard d’Estaing and me led to a period of Franco-German cooperation. A period which was continued successfully after the spring of 1990 between Mitterand and Kohl. Meanwhile the European community has grown between 1950/52 and 1991 step by step from six to twelve member states.
Thanks to the preparing initial work of Jacques Delors (then president of the European commission) Mitterand and Kohl have brought 1991 in Maastricht the common European currency to life which then in 2001 , ten years later became reality. Based on another French worry of a over mighty Germany – or more precise: of a over mighty D-Mark.
Meanwhile the Euro has become the second important currency of the global economy. The European currency is to its interior as in its outer relation so far more stable as the American dollar – and more stable as the D-Mark in its last 10 years. All talk and writing of a so called „crisis of the Euro“ is loose gossip of media, journalists and politicians.
Since Maastricht 1991/1992 the world has changed significantly. We experienced the liberation of eastern European nations and the implosion of the soviet union. We encountered the phenomenal rise of China , India, Brazil and other „developing countries“ which were called earlier „third world“. The real economies of largest parts of the world have become „globalized“ at the same time. To put it simply: Almost all states of the world are dependent on each other. Most of all the players on the globalized financial markets have meanwhile gained uncontrolled power.
But at once – almost unnoticed – mankind has grown explosion like to 7 bn people. When i was born it was merely 2 bn. All these fundamental changes have enormous consequences on the peoples of Europe , of their states and their well being.
On the other hand all European nations are growing old and the numbers of its citizens diminish. In the mid of the 21st century some 9 bn people will be allegedly living on the planet as the European nations altogether will only contribute some 7 pct of world population. 7 pct out of 9 bn ! Up to the 1950s the Europeans were for two centuries more than 20 pct of the world population.
But since 50 years we Europeans are shrinking – not only in absolute numbers but mainly in relation to Asia, Africa and Latin America. As fast the European share of world GDP which means at the creation of value of all mankind is shrinking. It will until 2050 sink approximately to 10 pct; 1950 it was still at around 30 pct.
Every one of the European nations will make only a fraction of 1 pct out of world population. That means: If we want to have the hope that we Europeans will have some importance for the world we can only achieve that commonly. Because as individual states – no matter if France, Italy, Germany, or Poland, Holland or Denmark or Greece- at the end one can only measure us not in pct but just in promille.
Resulting from that the long term strategical interest of all European nations to its integral unification. This strategical interest for European integration will gain more importance. It is by now not widely recognized by those nations. It is not brought to conscience by their government.
But if the European Union will not come to a – even a limited - common power to act in the next couple of decades a self inflicted marginalization of single European states and the European civilization cannot be ruled out. As less a resurrection of fights of competition and prestige between the states of Europe can be ruled out. In such a case an integration of Germany would hardly work anymore. The old game between center and periphery could become reality once more.
The process of worldwide Enlightenment , the expansion of rights of individual humans and its dignity , the constitutions based on the rule of law and the democratization wouldn't get any working impulses from Europe. Under this aspects the European community will get to life necessity for the national states of our old continent. This necessity reaches beyond the the motives of Churchill and de Gaulles. It reaches also beyond the motives of Monnet and those of Adenauer. It roofs today also the motives of Ernst Reuter, Fritz Erler, Willy Brandt and also of Helmut Kohl.
I add: most certainly it will still be the subject of integration of Germany. Therefore we Germans must gain clearness about our own task , our role within the context of European integration.
Germany needs steadiness and reliability.
If we at the end of the year 2011 look at Germany from outside and with the eyes of our direct and indirect neighbors then Germany invokes unpleasantness since a decade – lately also political worry. In the very last years significant doubts about the steadiness of German politics arised. The trust in the reliability of German politics is damaged.
Those doubts and worries are based also on foreign policy mistakes of our German politicians and governments. The are based for another part on the for the world surprising economic strength of the unified Federal Republic. Our economy has developed – starting in the 1970s, back then still divided in two – to the biggest in Europe. It is technologically, it is fiscal political and social political today one of the most powerful economies of the world. Our economic strength and our comparably stable social peace since decades has invoked also envy – even when our unemployment rate and our debt rate are within international normality.
But it is not sufficiently recognized by us that our economy is integrated to a high degree in as well the European market as well as it is globalized and therefore dependent of the world economy. We will therefore experience next year that the German exports are not growing significantly anymore.
Meanwhile a very serious misformed development took place. Enduring enormous surpluses of our trading and balance of services. Those surpluses since years make up for about 5 pct of our GDP. It is approximately as big as the surpluses of China. This is not on our conscience because it is not expressed in DM surpluses anymore but in Euro. It is necessary however for our politicians to realize that fact. Because of our surpluses are in fact the deficits of others. The demands that we have towards others are their debts. It is an annoying breach of our „foreign economic balance“ which we once idealized. And when nowadays foreign mostly American voices can be heard – they come meanwhile from many sides – which demand from Germany a European leadership role so all of it together invokes additional suspicions by our neighbors. And it invokes bad memories.
** click here for part two **
* his deceased wife which he was married to since the war.
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