We are deeply concerned about the future of Europe and Germany

This open letter was published last week and signed by six “leading German thinkers”. One of the six was Friedrich Merz, who is now a major contender to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel—Ed

We want the EU to protect our way of life and create prosperity for all. We want Europe to uphold democracy, human rights and global solidarity in the fight for the preservation of natural resources. Now we need to take big, bold steps. Muddling through from crisis to crisis, as we’ve been doing lately, endangers everything we have achieved.

To avoid this, we believe Europe should deepen the integration of its foreign and security policy by shifting to majority voting. Europe should also work toward the goal of a common European army. That doesn’t mean we’ll need more money — the European NATO members currently outspend Russia on defense three to one. What we need is to overcome the small-scale defense policies of nation states. That way we will project much more military power without additional costs. Also, since we are no longer inclined to waging war against each other within Europe, we no longer need national armies. And since Europe’s armed forces are not directed against anyone, the creation of a European military should be combined with arms control and disarmament initiatives.

Germany and France together must invite the EU’s founding countries, Poland and the Baltic states to join in from the start. But this initiative must be open to all EU members that pursue the same goal — that would include many, and possibly all, countries. This is how we should tell the world that we’re sticking together without fail, that we won’t allow ourselves to be weakened and divided. We’ll show other countries that they can consider Europe an equal partner for peaceful policies aiming at a fair balance of interests and the preservation of natural resources on our planet.

However, Europe can only be credible abroad if it is also internally united. The euro zone, the core and most advanced area of the European unity project, is fragile. Everyone knows that. More muddling through puts the euro zone at risk of not surviving the next financial crisis. And this would drag Europe backward in many other areas as well.

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