France and Germany must build EU sovereignty - Macron

Commemorative ceremony in the Bundestag – Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Berlin, 18 November 2018


After the mistakes of the post-1918 period, in 1945 we managed, together, to find the strength, greatness and clear-sightedness to be reconciled. It’s because our nations have been able to regain their spirit and reach out their hands to each other in a newfound companionship that 70 years of peace have reigned over Europe. We’ve done that without forgetting our dead, without denying mistakes and responsibilities, and without avoiding the truth of history; we’ve done it with clarity and stringency, trust and frankness. (…)

But, my dear friends, we’ve done even more. (…) We’ve decided to conclude a lasting peace and powerfully cement its foundations by pooling what we had used to wage war, then cooperating in so very many areas. We’ve made the Franco-German partnership the heart of a united Europe gradually joined by partners who, in our history, had been sometimes our allies and sometimes our adversaries. Together we’ve established on our continent that feeling only ever glimpsed in the ideals of our greatest thinkers but felt just vaguely by our peoples and persistently rejected by our leaders: the European feeling. Together, over recent decades, we’ve turned into a reality the dream of Erasmus, of Goethe, of Hugo and of Zweig.

That feeling, more than any war, is possible between Europeans only because we’re much more similar than we are different and because history has gradually uncovered a European distinctiveness, identity, culture and vocation. That European feeling exists among us political leaders; it’s the daily staple of our institutions and businesses; it marks out the horizons of our youth and peoples; we haven’t denied our differences, we haven’t set them against one another, we’ve united them and, in so doing, discovered how much extra influence and sovereignty this gives us. (…)

This shared enterprise has enabled the reconciliation, then reunification, of your country and our continent. Today, together, we must have the courage to open a new chapter. We owe it to Europe itself, because deep down we haven’t fully understood the time we’re living in. We owe it to all those who, for the past seven decades, have built this exceptional thing that is our Europe.

The security threat, the climate emergency, the digital upheaval, the artificial intelligence revolution, the agricultural transformation, the migration challenge – the European Union wasn’t designed to grasp or tackle any of these. Germany and France, with their partners, have managed to stitch Europe together again, build a single market within it, develop trade and stimulate competition; but it really must be said that our laws have so far barely touched on our management of borders, our common defence, the fair regulation of the digital space, our ability to become the continent of innovation, our monetary independence and our food sovereignty, and our union still approaches them with a beginner’s caution.

And yet the new Franco-German responsibility exists in the construction of this modern, effective, democratic sovereignty, and initially it will originate only with us. (…)

This new Franco-German responsibility consists in providing Europe with the tools for this new invention, the tools of its sovereignty.

This new chapter ultimately frightens us, because everyone will have to share, pool their decision-making abilities, their foreign, migration or development policies, a growing share of their budgets and even tax resources; build a common defence, make the euro an international currency equipped with a budget, create a European asylum office to harmonize our rules, and consolidate a health agency guaranteeing all our fellow citizens high quality in their daily diet. All this awaits us.

But I ask these two questions: is it preferable to remain shut away in our own inertia? Above all I ask: was it easier for those who went before us? For Briand and Stresemann, Adenauer and de Gaulle, Mitterrand and Kohl? Didn’t they have to overcome greater taboos, more painful histories, fiercer resistance than us? This new responsibility for action we have, we owe it to Europe and we owe it to the world as it is today, because our world is at a crossroads: either it chooses to hurl itself, as it’s already done, at the precipice of technology without conscience, nationalism without memory, fanaticism without bearings, or it decides that the tremendous achievements of modernity open up a new era from which the whole of humanity can benefit.

It’s on this continent, in our union that the new digital model is today being born, blending disruptive innovation, data protection and stakeholder regulation. It’s from here that the battle for the ecological transition and against climate change originates and continues. It’s in Europe that ideas are forged about overhauling multilateralism in terms of trade, security, migration and the environment. Europe and, within it, the Franco-German tandem are duty-bound not to let the world slide into chaos and to support it on the road to peace.

That’s why Europe must be stronger. That’s why it must have more sovereignty, because it won’t be able to play its part if it becomes itself the plaything of powers, if it doesn’t take more responsibility for its defence and security and makes do with playing secondary roles on the global stage.

Too many powers today want to exclude us from the game by attacking our public debate, our open democracies, and stirring up our divisions. In this world, which we must face head-on, our strength, our real strength is our unity; that’s not a synonym for unanimity or uniformity. For Europe to move forward, we must accept different rhythms, different circles, accept that some will launch a project, a cooperation programme – that was true for Schengen and the euro – but always while remaining open to everyone by keeping in our minds and our hearts the interest of a united Europe. Our strength must also become our sovereignty.

If we want to guarantee to our fellow citizens that we’re putting ourselves in a position to protect them against the new risks and to choose our future, we must be more sovereign as Europeans. (…)

Long live France, long live Germany, love live Franco-German friendship and long live Europe!./.

Published on 08/01/2020

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