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Don't talk the EU down, German president Steinmeier says

Europe
09.10.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Europeans take the European Union‘s successes for granted while concentrating too much on its problems, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday in Vienna, issuing a plea for a more positive view.

The German head of state attended a discussion event together with his Austrian and Slovak counterparts, Alexander Van der Bellen and Andrej Kiska, in which the three looked ahead at the 2019 EU parliamentary elections

"We talk too much about Europe when things go wrong or when agreements fail, but not enough about normal Europe, which is running a lot more smoothly than most people want to acknowledge or know," Steinmeier told an audience of university students.

The three presidents spoke out against populist and eurosceptic movements that seek to wrest power from the EU and hand it back to its member states.

"No one should believe that everything will become easier if we don‘t try European solutions," Steinmeier said, pointing to the successful integration of the job markets, trade and education among EU countries.

Voters should ask themselves who the true patriots are, former Green party leader Van der Bellen said.

"Is it those who want to elevate the 19th-century national state of yesteryear, or those who understand that sovereignty must be pooled in today‘s world?" he asked.

Without naming specific countries, Slovakia‘s independent leader Kiska said European citizens should counter populist and anti-EU politics.

"We need good leaders - pro-EU leaders," he said. "We should not be afraid to say: I am proud to be European," Kiska added.

 

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