KAS / Urban

Event Reports

"Let us work together for a better Europe"

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, gave the fifth State of Europa of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, appealed to reform asylum and refugee policies during his Speech on Europe in Berlin.

Schulz was speaking to an audience of 500 people at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. He was talking about “a disgrace to Europe“, as hundreds of people who seek help are drowning, like recently off the coast of Italy. Schulz conceded that such a complex issue will not allow for any “simple solutions“ and that Europe is not able to admit everyone. In order to help those in real need of protection, however, new regulations will be required. Schulz argued: "A drowning hand needs a rescuing hand". Furthermore, the routes to legal immigration have to be expanded and to be harmonized among all European member states.

Schulz, who already held his second Speech on Europe after his speech in 2012, also addressed the topic of so-called free movement. He believes that there is no greater achievement than a person’s right to liberally choose their place of residence and work. It was therefore painful to see how new borders between EU member states have been built. Especially Germany and the German social systems benefit from free movement – not least thanks to people from Romania and Bulgaria.

Yet, Schulz acknowledged certain problems. There seem to be countries that are overwhelmed with immigration. But instead of closing borders, financial and organizational aid must be provided. “If we refuse to help“, Schulz reasoned, “we will create breeding grounds for agitators“. Although there is a range of problems, new borders cannot be the solution. Having new borders in contemplation bears witness to an incredible historical amnesia.

The Speech on Europe – a cooperation project of the foundations Stiftung Zukunft Berlin, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – is traditionally held on November 9, a date that is steeped in German and European history. Besides his comments on current affairs, Schulz reminded of the peaceful revolution. “November 9, 1989 is a happy day because it is freedom that triumphed“, Schulz said. The fact that the Cold War ended 25 years ago and that partition and incapacitation were overcome was mainly the merit of various citizens’ movements in the former GDR, as well as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and many other countries. In this context, Schulz also honored former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The reunification was not Kohl’s merit alone, but it can be considered his historical contribution, as he concurred “in a very specific manner“.

Schulz eventually ended with his closing appeal: „Let us work together for a better Europe; anything else would be a bad alternative. Hence, we will take the heritage of the 1989 revolution seriously “.

Beforehand, Schulz had been welcomed by Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, Chairman of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, who also dipped into the past. “November 9, 1989 represents the borderless joy about the peaceful revolution and is the most meaningful day in recent European and German history“.

Event Reports
KAS / Urban
November 9, 2013
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About this series

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, its educational institutions, centres and foreign offices, offer several thousand events on various subjects each year. We provide up to date and exclusive reports on selected conferences, events and symposia at www.kas.de. In addition to a summary of the contents, you can also find additional material such as pictures, speeches, videos or audio clips.

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