22nd International WDR Europaforum 2019

Shaping Europe together

Time for a new European confidence

Which Europe do we want, how should it look, and how far do we want to go together as EU?

Greeting Jean-Claude Juncker

Shaping Europe Together – Time for a New European Confidence

What do you have planned on 26 May 2019? – If you did not automatically remember that you are planning to vote in the European elections on Sunday, 26 May, then hopefully the intensive debates at the WDR Europaforum will inspire you to do so. After all, the European elections will be decisive for the future of Europe, and thus also for Europe’s ability to act on the global political stage.

Europe is the smallest continent. We must bear this fact in mind when we consider our European confidence in the world. We are even getting smaller: Whereas in 1900 around a quarter of the world’s population lived in Europe, we Europeans will make up only 4 percent by 2060. Our share in the global economy will shift from 23 percent to around 15 percent. In 20 years, not a single European country will have a seat at the G7 table – not even Germany. Any further questions?

Therefore, all those who tell us that we should fragment once again into our own individual parts, and solve our problems as national states, are hugely mistaken. All those who ask themselves whether there is still a raison d'être for Europe in the 21st century, should already know the answer. Disinformation, migration, security and climate change are challenges that rarely stop at borders. They are challenges for which we as European can find joint solutions.

As the president of the EU Commission, I will work until the very last day of my tenure to ensure that Europe takes control of its own future: as a frontrunner in climate protection, as a defence union with European values, as an economic community with social responsibility. And as a union that has the courage to take majority rather than unanimous decisions when it comes to foreign policy. If we Europeans wish to help shape the world as architects, instead of sitting on the backbenches, we must speak with one voice.

I wish you many fruitful debates at the WDR Europaforum 2019. Please remind the audience that they have the chance on Sunday to help shape the future of Europe.

Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission

Greeeting Antonio Tajani

Europe needs formats like the WDR Europaforum

Let’s talk about Europe’s future!

The 22nd WDR Europaforum calls on us to shape Europe together. Precisely that is why it is important to participate in this year’s European elections. With your vote you can determine the direction our common project should take. Europe needs formats like the WDR Europaforum in order to demonstrate that the European Union is sustained by citizens who pursue common goals. Their engagement ensures not only that open borders are created, but also a community that can prevail in international competition.

Despite the constantly increasing legislative competences of the European Parliament, voter turnout has been somewhat disappointing in the past. My hope is that this will change in 2019. In recent years, the European Union has shown the world what this alliance of states is capable of. In particular, the European Parliament has taken on the issues of environmental and climate protection, and it has passed resolutions to counter the exploitation of nature. The strengthening of the digital single market has also made the EU globally competitive, while promoting consumer protection. The protection of its external borders makes the European Union a place in which EU citizens can feel safe. We all have a responsibility to continue showing our commitment and demonstrating what the idea of the European Union stands for. European elections will be held throughout the European Union from 23 to 26 May 2019. This presents a further opportunity to pave the way for the EU to ensure that Europe can remain a continent of peace, freedom and stability.

The institution of the European Parliament has started an information campaign >thistimeimvoting.eu<. It aims to connect people throughout the whole of the European Union, since there are citizens in all countries who have similar wishes and thoughts and who are willing to advocate the European Union project. All across the EU, many thousands of people have now come together to express their voting intentions. They meet regularly in groups, discuss how the EU in which they live should look, and how they can get information about the upcoming elections. That which is important to the citizens is precisely what must be addressed by the European Parliament.

Making the Parliament the central focus of the EU means placing the main focus on Europeans. If we all follow common goals, we can create a unity that is decisive in important areas such as the economy, research, or defence.

For this reason, I appeal to you directly:

Each and every one of us has the opportunity to shape Europe. Talk to people in your networks, express your opinions, and be open to dialogue, so that the European Union can develop further. With the election that takes place in Germany on 26 May, we can steer our common future in a new direction. Now is your chance to show clearly that we see the European Union as a community that unites us all.

Antonio Tajani
President of the European Parliament

Greeting Heiko Maas

Europe is faced with a fundamental decision: What kind of Europe do we want?

On 23 May 2019 the first member states of the European Union will start voting in the European Parliament elections. Three days later, they will cast their votes for their preferred candidates in Germany.

The elections to the European Parliament are a central symbol of European democracy. More than 300 million eligible voters can choose their parliamentary representatives in free, secret and above all direct elections.

But this time it is about much more than that. Europe is faced with a fundamental decision: What kind of Europe do we want? Many predict that populists and nationalists will emerge strengthened from this election – in other words, political forces that aim to undermine the functionality of the EU from within by means of a frontal attack on the values that characterise Europe.

This Europe, in which we live in peace, freedom and wealth, to which we have become so accustomed, where younger people have never known anything different, should not be taken for granted. It is painfully clear to us all: European integration can also be rolled back.

Therefore I appeal to you: As a committed European, please use your chance to codetermine Europe’s future!

Before we vote on 26 May, we have another opportunity to talk and, where necessary, argue about the future of the European Union. I am grateful to the WDR for staging the Europaforum for the 22nd time, and I am particularly delighted that the Foreign Office can again host the event in 2019.

The theme of the Europaforum is “Shaping Europe Together – Time for a new European confidence”. One year ago, during my speech on >#EuropeUnited<, I expressed my wish for such confidence, and a “European patriotism” based on our values. We all have good reason for this.

There is such a thing as the “European Way of Life”. We Europeans can be proud of many things: freedom, democracy, wealth and social cohesion, an open and tolerant society. Where else in the world does such a large area exist that protects these values and achievements? If we want to voice our values and interests in global issues such as climate change or world trade, we can only do so together!

At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that our values must constantly be defended and asserted, also in Europe. We must advance Europe resolutely if we wish to preserve it. Confidence must not be allowed to lead to complacency – so let us use the day for exciting discussions!

Heiko Maas
German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs