Angela Merkel's EU policy is good for Germany – and for the rest of Europe | Hans-Gert Pöttering

The European Union and the euro are not perfect, but now we have the chance, and the duty, to help improve them

On 22 September Germans will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. This general election will not only be dominated by domestic issues, but also by EU questions. I am in favour of the successful continuation of German chancellor Angela Merkel's EU policy.

Germany owes much to European unity. The EU is a guarantor of peace, freedom and prosperity. For my generation of Germans – but also for the younger generation without the experience of war and dictatorship – that fact is highly valued. Apart from the gift of peace, the European single market and the euro have contributed to Europe's status as the world's largest economic area. Many people all over the world envy the high standard of living we enjoy.

It is in the European people's interest to preserve and strengthen these achievements. Our world is changing fast. Economic power is continuing to shift towards Asia, with the population in this region growing rapidly as well. In contrast, Europe's population is shrinking and ageing. Therefore, promoting the EU is also the key instrument for our success in global competition and for ensuring stability, growth and security.

As an EU practitioner – president of the European parliament (2007-09), chairman of the EPP-ED group to which British Conservatives once belonged from 1999 until 2007, and a long-standing member of the European parliament – I am convinced that deepening European integration is the way forward. The EU and the euro are not perfect, but we have the chance, if not the duty for the sake of the coming generations, to improve them. Therefore, our current course of action to overcome the crisis as well as measures to strengthen the EU are paramount.

We also need a stronger common foreign, security and defence policy to give the EU more power and authority on the international stage. Let me give you an example: my party, the German Christian Democrats (CDU), is a strong advocate of a free trade agreement between the EU and the United States. This contract is all about chances. It would establish a special political and economic relationship between the EU and the US. The UK should be a key player in this relationship.

Finally, I believe the EU should become more democratic. One step towards this end would be the direct election of the president of the European commission. He or she would not only be accountable to the heads of the 28 EU member states but to the EU's 500 million citizens.

The level of commitment with which Germany will work towards achieving these goals in the future will depend on the outcome of the 22 September election. The government under Merkel has done its utmost in the past four years to ensure that Europe emerges stronger from the financial and economic crisis. It professed solidarity with its European neighbours and stood up for sound national budgets and a strong common currency. The implementation of sorely needed structural reforms is now an important step to take in order to solve the sovereign debt crisis and achieve faster and more sustained growth in EU member states.

We Christian Democrats will continue consistently on this course, strengthening competitiveness and pursuing a policy that will create jobs and reduce youth unemployment in the European Union. We will continue to fight for the successful evolution of the European project.

It is not our goal to create a "German Europe" but a "European Germany", accepting its full responsibility as the largest national economy in the EU and co-operating with all its partners to advance the integration process.

The EU is essential for us to live in peace and freedom. As the former chancellor Konrad Adenauer once said: "There was a time when a few people dreamed of European unity. It has since become the hope of many, and today it is a necessity for all." This is still true today.


Hans-Gert Pöttering

The GuardianTramp

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