View from the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum: a crisis calls for leadership

Posted on 09. December 2011

by Veronika Sobolova

veronika-sobolova-modifieedThe crisis has clearly shown us that Europe needs strong leadership. Sometimes it seems as though the European Union is incapable of acting together. The integrated European Union is empowered to act on the global scene. In times of crisis it is crucial to show the world that Europe can speak with one voice.

As Helga Maria Schmid noted at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, which took place on 28 and 29 November: we have to think global and be united. Prof. Yiwei Wang of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University supported this statement, saying that China cannot deal separately with 27 European embassies in Beijing. In his words: if we had a single united representation it would make us stronger in the multipolar world.

Who is the leader of the EU? Or do we European have a leader at all? Sixty percent of young people surveyed by Europe&Me magazine see Angela Merkel as the most influential person in the European Union. Does this mean that 60 percent of young people believe the German chancellor should be the leading representative of the Union? The most influential person is the person with the greatest power and the widest range of competencies to bring about a compromise. One of the natural leaders is Germany, of course. It has the power, it has the world reputation and Germany has played the key role in the European decision-making process in the last 15 years. At the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, German Foreign Minister Westerwelle confirmed that Germany has the will to lead, without wishing to dominate. In his interview with Europe&Me magazine Mr Westerwelle affirmed that the time that the national interest and the European interest contradicted each other was over. I’m not sure he still believes that today.

A propos, we already have a lot of ‘representatives’ – but are they competent and strong enough to lead the Union? A leader’s power is important when conducting negotiations. Do the existing European leaders have the mandate to represent all of us? National leaders have a mandate from their voters. European leaders should similarly be given a mandate by all Europeans. That would guarantee the unity of the Union as well.