“State of Europe” – Speech by President Charles Michel at the Berlin Conference 2021

Thank you for your warm welcome.

I am deeply touched to talk to you, here in Berlin, on these types of an vital date – the 9th of November. As a fervent European, there is possibly no superior date, nor place, to converse about the long term of Europe. Since it backlinks, by likelihood of the calendar, two functions that had been the seeds of the most atrocious tragedy of our continent and a several a long time afterwards the symbolic celebration that marked the starting of our unification.

The Europe of 27 is the merchandise of a one of a kind reconciliation immediately after a exceptional tragedy. And Berlin, on the 9th of November, is its symbolic funds.

But Europe is not just about symbols. Europe is the consequence of decades of really hard work by numerous. They had been not intimidated by the length amongst their starting stage and their practically utopian great. Konrad Adenauer was one of them. Speaking about the future of Europe underneath his watchful eye calls for high specifications and modesty. I thank you for giving me this prestigious possibility.

The 21st century will be the century of Europe. This may sound presumptuous, I know. Europe, like the relaxation of the planet, faces monumental troubles.

Local climate modify and preserving the earth, and humanity, from normal catastrophe. This will need a radical transformation of our progress paradigm. The digital revolution … and handling the increase of synthetic intelligence. And in addition, COVID-19, a extensive-predicted pandemic for which we had been not prepared. Ultimately, we deal with the expanding pressure of authoritarian regimes. They provoke new tensions and undermine our democracies. Science and information are increasingly questioned.

We are not one of a kind. Just about every generation faces a exclusive established of seemingly insurmountable troubles. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that today’s challenges are the most complicated considering the fact that the aftermath of the final World War. And we all really feel our collective historic accountability. I am certain that the EU has the power to deal with these issues.

Europe admired in the earth

Of system, in Europe, we generally hear pessimistic or defeatist accounts of Europe. That we are way too weak, much too helpless to experience the risks of these uncertain occasions. Some get-togethers even use people’s anxieties as the springboard for their ambitions.

I have a distinct practical experience. When I fulfill leaders, NGO activists, or men and women all over the planet, they pretty much often talk with admiration about our European Union. I not long ago took section in the summit of Latin American and Caribbean nations around the world, in Mexico. When speaking with leaders there, I felt the strong, magnetic attraction that the European Union holds for them.

So what particularly do they see in us?

They see a great ability. They see the major place of democracy and independence in the earth. The most state-of-the-art place of prosperity and social development. They see a exceptional instance of continental integration: peaceful and voluntary.

A prosperous player

This admiration is not an summary projection. It can be explained by our concrete successes.

Our single forex, the euro, has grow to be the next most traded forex in the world. Our location of no cost movement delivers advantages that we only fully appreciated when the pandemic constrained them. And our successes have a immediate effect on the rest of the environment. For the greater.

The European Union has led the battle against worldwide warming for years. Notably in 2019, when we were the first to commit to local climate neutrality by 2050. And others have adopted.

And when COVID-19 struck, inspite of some first hesitations, we reacted rapidly and decisively. And most importantly, with solidarity. We agreed on the most ambitious financial commitment and restoration offer at any time resolved by the European Union. And this … from quite diverse beginning factors.

Below I would like to pay back tribute to Germany. You have played a major function in going the lines on popular European investments. And funding a recovery that gains our whole European solitary current market.

On vaccines, the European Union was at the forefront of world fundraising. And we grounded our system in solidarity. Suitable from the start, we resolved to jointly obtain vaccines for all 27 Member States. This ensured their good distribution throughout our Union.

Again in March, on the matter of vaccines, we realized the EU was not running a sprint, but a marathon. And without a doubt, the EU has turn into the world’s greatest producer and exporter of COVID vaccines. And when it arrives to worldwide vaccine solidarity, the EU is at the head of the pack. We aided launch the COVAX facility – for the equitable distribution of vaccines across the entire world. We are its first sponsor. We have released programmes to acquire mRNA vaccine creation capacity in Africa. And we are well prepared to do this in other places.

The EU has performed all this, regardless of owning nearly no competence in well being in the EU treaties. We did it simply because the 27 Member States preferred us to. And we did it without organising a convention or shifting the treaties.

These successes, and the picture we job across the globe, boost my deep conviction that our exclusive European design will permit us to deal with this century’s biggest problems head-on.

I think Europe is destined to turn into the wonderful “power of peace” for this 21st century. A favourable, unifying electric power.

We can fulfil this future if we attain the two problems properly summarised by someone pricey to you … and quite dear to me. Angela Merkel. When she gained the Charles the Fifth prize not long ago, in Extremadura, she reported: “Europe can only be as robust as it is united. And it can only be as united as it is sure with each other by frequent values. United internally and solid externally.”

Unity and toughness, along with our “strategic autonomy”, are the keys to the upcoming of Europe.

First, unity

To start with, unity. In which else is familiar with greater than Germany that unity – unification – can make you more powerful?

But as you know, unity does not show up from the Heavens. It can take function. It have to be designed. Move by action, day by working day, yr after yr. It requires political courage. And for unity to do the job in a Union of 27, it will take two critical components – mutual knowing and trust.

Our countries and areas have diverse histories, languages, traditions, political and financial backgrounds. It is exactly this variety that would make Europe extraordinarily wealthy. But it also can make our quest for unity specially complicated. So we must try to fully grasp each other and regard our distinctions.

This means recognising the equivalent legitimacy of every portion of our Union. There should really be no discuss of little and massive Member States. Of centre and periphery. Of previous and new. Nor ought to we discuss of nations that have “understood” the European spirit superior than other people. This poisons our unity. And reeks of condescension.

No location understands this greater than this town – Berlin. Where by the actual physical slide of the Wall led to the sluggish dismantling of psychological walls. Nevertheless in other places, we occasionally listen to words that make some EU international locations sense like victims of double benchmarks. This are not able to take place. There is no location for double standards in just one Union.

For unity to endure and flourish, it wants a good foundation. Our popular values. Human dignity and flexibility. Solidarity and tolerance. Regard for range. It also involves have confidence in, which grows and takes condition in a established of frequently picked and approved principles. And persistence.

Unity is not chiselled in stone as soon as and for all. It’s a process, a collective journey. You get started with different passions and unique details of check out. You go over. You pay attention actively. You do the job to carry them nearer together. You discover widespread interests. You compromise – for the typical good. The very good of all.

I often see the headlines prior to our European Council meetings. They denounce the divisions, as if different opinions and distinctive countrywide pursuits have been a betrayal of our Union.

I never see it like that.

Democratic discussion usually means coming together, seeking every other in the eye, sometimes debating vigorously, and selecting. This is how democracy will work

Unity also involves possession. In authoritarian units, this is uncomplicated – possession is imposed. In democratic methods, it’s more tricky – it is debated, then acquired. This qualified prospects to democratic legitimacy.

In Brussels, you will occasionally hear the line: “The European Union would be an absolutely awesome creation.  Regretably, it’s complete of Member States”. This implies that Member States are someway egocentric and an obstacle to accomplishing our “European ideal”. Nothing at all could be even more from the truth of the matter.

The European Union is centered on a double democratic legitimacy. On the 1 hand, the legitimacy of the Member States, exactly where parliaments are elected and appoint governments. They characterize their nations in the Council.  And on the other hand, the legitimacy of the straight elected European Parliament.

The designation of the European Fee demonstrates this double democratic legitimacy. EU motion is only attainable when it is based on these two democratic pillars. One particular is not more legitimately European than the other.

This legitimacy is certain by the rule of legislation. The rule of regulation means the separation of powers and the mutual independence of these powers. In specific, the independence of the judiciary – the essential affliction for confidence in the method.

Strategic autonomy

The other critical to Europe’s foreseeable future is our strategic autonomy.

This term is comprehended in another way in diverse areas, and with unique sensibilities. What issues most is not the time period, but the that means powering it – our targets.

In my watch, strategic autonomy usually means no additional and no fewer than remaining grasp of our individual destiny. The means to act alongside one another in an open up earth. It signifies taking care of our interdependencies while avoiding abnormal dependencies. To reinforce our strategic autonomy, we should improve our prosperity, our one sector and bolster our stability.


Our prosperity is anchored in a competitive market of 450 million inhabitants – supplying infinite scope for liberty of generation, company, and trade. We even now require to great its framework –to comprehensive the banking union and to achieve a correct funds markets union to superior channel revenue to the true financial system. And we will quickly have to talk about whether or not our Stability and Growth Pact, that has served us properly for 24 yrs, desires to be current.

Ludwig Erhard usually reminded Germany that “the focal position of our economy is the specific”. Our European vision is 1 of shared prosperity, exactly where all citizens get pleasure from the same prospects and the exact same variety of items and solutions. This is the this means of our cohesion policies and of our Restoration programme – Upcoming Technology EU – which goal to decrease the gaps in between nations and areas The far more our economies converge, the more robust they will be for each and every other.

The European Union has a clear and sturdy strategy to deal with the worries of the 21st century. A strategy underpinned by our twin transitions of local climate and electronic. They are enshrined in our Eco-friendly Offer And in our Electronic Agenda. This transition indicates a significant transformation of our economic and social paradigm

Today’s weather unexpected emergency leaves us no choice. We ought to go after a totally new development model – a single that no for a longer period abuses natural assets, but re-takes advantage of them in a circular economy detached from fossil fuels. This transition will demand profound improvements in conduct. It also presents remarkable probable to innovate and to produce new technologies and services that will travel our prosperity. The electronic revolution will play a pivotal function, and maximising the huge potential of knowledge and artificial intelligence will be decisive to our upcoming accomplishment.

This long run sparks enjoyment in some, and stress in other folks. Many folks marvel what will become of their positions or worry about their kid’s prospective customers. This uncertainty is easy to understand. 10 or 20 a long time from now some of you will be functioning in employment that really don’t but exist these days. This is challenging to picture. So we must be forward-wanting and give the ideal schooling for these new professions due to the fact we will crucially have to have skilled employees. We want all people to be aspect of this interesting foreseeable future.


Prosperity arrives from our inside marketplace, and it also comes from external trade. Trade drives enhancement, and it is a effective lever to affect the planet.

The European Union is the world’s leading trading power. But we have a problem.  We are quite good at placing formidable absolutely free trade or expense agreements with overseas companions with the European Commission in demand. But for some time now, we have difficulty ratifying these agreements at the time they are signed. We can only implement them provisionally at best. The problem is a person of sort and just one of substance.

On the variety, the confidentiality of these negotiations helps make it ever more tricky to reveal their worth to the general public and to the nationwide parliaments that ought to approve them. In other phrases, ownership does not function. We must consider inspiration from the extra transparent and inclusive approach taken in the Brexit negotiations.

As for the substance, we will need to clarify the plans and priorities of these agreements. We began this discussion amongst leaders at our final European Council. Do we imagine that they should facilitate trade and expense in a framework of reciprocity and level taking part in field although also contributing to a fairer, a lot more sustainable globe? Or do we assume an settlement is only legitimate and suitable if it solves all the world’s difficulties in a single go?

I’ll give you an case in point. The Fee negotiated a Complete Settlement on Financial commitment with China. This agreement would open up accessibility to main sectors from which our European businesses are presently barred. It would develop much more reciprocity and deal with labour guidelines and disorders.

Is this settlement excellent? No. Did we get all the things we required? Definitely not. But neither did China. Would this arrangement direct to a democratic method in China and total respect for human and labour legal rights? No. But it produces a system to go over these issues with the Chinese authorities, who don’t like them because they don’t share our identical method and our values.

The query is: are our passions far better defended and our means to secure the Uighurs’ rights and to encourage the rule of regulation in Hong Kong much better ensured with, or without, this sort of an agreement? This is not an actual science. There is no easy answer.

So we need to concur – at the amount of the Member States and the EU establishments – on the priorities we go after with these trade and financial commitment agreements. And in any case, I concur with my close friend Mark Rutte, Primary Minister of the Netherlands, when he claims: “Europe need to be a participant. Not a enjoying discipline.”

I will make sure the European Council addresses this significant discussion.

World wide potential and safety

The 2nd pillar of our strategic autonomy is security.

It commences with our “soft” geopolitical affect aimed at advertising our values and defending our pursuits. Right here, I believe that we have a potent advantage – the earth would like to interact with us. Mainly because our partners see the benefit of engaging with a positive pressure, free of charge from the colonial prisms of the earlier centuries.

We are developing new alliances – with Africa, Asia, and Latin The us – with associates who are assured about our vision and about our values. These alliances are about interconnecting our bodily and digital infrastructure and about connecting our individuals, by stimulating public and private investment decision inside a framework of principles and requirements that place elementary values at the coronary heart of initiatives. This is what we connect with ‘trusted connectivity’. And we want to establish this dependable connectivity with like-minded associates.

Also, world-wide troubles can only be addressed by way of world-wide cooperation. The ideal way to exert influence is to be current diplomatically and to engage diplomatically. Guaranteeing our security means recognizing and superior comprehending our neighbours, our rivals, even our adversaries. And creating ourselves greater understood by them. That is what I try out to do, for occasion, in my cellular phone calls with the Russian President. It presents me the understanding to share with my colleagues in the European Council or with other international partners like the Ukrainian President.

Diplomacy also usually means taking benefit of alternatives.

Last spring, when I frequented Georgia, a strategically crucial nation in the framework of our Eastern Partnership, I noticed the possibility to broker a political deal involving the conflicted functions. Likewise, immediately after my contacts with the Armenian and Azeri leaders, the EU managed to broker a put up-conflict offer amongst these nations around the world, which were being at war a couple of months in the past. The EU has a job to participate in, an important job.

Enable me to take intention at an over-utilized cliché. It claims that without our own defence, the European Union lacks the instruments to assume our role as a worldwide electrical power. We have numerous devices – frequently unsuspected – to impact exterior actors. We could be a lot stronger and more effective, by staying extra pragmatic and extra coherent.

There are several examples of pragmatic European responses to crisis cases. But we have to have to be extra coherent. EU insurance policies such as trade, progress, competition, neighbourhood, and local weather action are typically managed “in silos”, unbiased of each individual other.

This is exactly what the European Council does – linking different insurance policies and making certain coherence. Requesting the Fee to organise on the external dimension of migration. We attempt for a mutually effective cooperation with third international locations. We have a good deal to give them

This subject delivers me to a current crisis.

We are experiencing a brutal, hybrid assault on our EU borders. Belarus is weaponising migrants’ distress in a cynical and shocking way. At our past European Council, we condemned and made the decision to answer to these assaults. We asked the Commission to suggest all vital actions in line with EU law and international obligations.

We have opened the debate on the EU financing of bodily border infrastructure. This will have to be settled swiftly because Polish and Baltic borders are EU borders. A person for all and all for just one.


Security also signifies defence.

European defence is anchored in our Atlantic alliance. NATO is the spine of our collective protection. Outside of the navy, this alliance back links us to our strategic associates on the other facet of the Atlantic. We share a popular heritage, values, and commitments.

This alliance of democracies is all the far more critical at a time of raising strain, as we face new kinds of attack from authoritarian regimes. This is why we will have to create our defence abilities. Stronger allies make more robust alliances. And we welcome the United States’ recognition of the value of a more powerful European defence, as a complement to NATO.

Yet, we simply cannot ignore the extended-expression developments, even amongst our allies. Current geopolitical activities in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific have proven that we need to depend extra on ourselves and choose higher obligation for ourselves. Overdependence – even on our finest good friends – is not sustainable.  It is not healthful.

In concrete terms, the European Council has agreed on a function prepare for the in the vicinity of future. In December, we will talk about the “strategic compass” becoming ready by Josep Borrell. This compass will established out our strategic axes. We will endorse it at a defence summit in March upcoming year.

We are typically questioned the issue: will Europe one particular day have its have European military? The prospect exists. But in any situation, we all know it wouldn’t be for tomorrow.

Right now, more than a European army, we need European abilities. But, I do consider we must act in a concrete and operational way to create our capabilities in the facial area of new hazards and in new parts, such as cyber and area.

Digital advancement is creating our economies and our societies extra successful, but also far more dependent on technological innovation, databases, and connectivity. One particular matter is particular: we will a single day have to confront a major cyber-crisis or cyber-assault. The only issue is when?

Recent assaults have demonstrated that the threats are world. And so are the attackers. It is consequently in the desire of Europeans to pool our efforts and to build defensive and deterrent cyber capabilities. This should start by developing an EU process for cyber disaster administration and response to massive-scale assaults. Our upcoming dialogue on our “strategic compass” will be an chance to take into account this project.

Our cyber protection is also intrinsically joined to the protection of our means in house. We are common with geolocation, observation, and surveillance instruments on land and at sea. But area is significantly internet hosting infrastructure and solutions that present connectivity capabilities necessary to electronic advancement.

The congestion of this territory, not to mention the activities of malicious actors, indicate that we must also safeguard our passions there. So we must fortify the synergies among the civil, space and defence industries. Previous April, we adopted the new European Union Space Programme with a record price range of 13 billion euro. We will make a distinction by pooling our attempts from the outset.

Konrad Adenauer – who else – famously reported: “We really should not ignore that to obtain great points, we will need tolerance.” I would insert this: some victories arrive immediately after a extended time, even though other individuals can be attained quickly.

The European undertaking usually takes time. Seventy several years is nonetheless a youthful age for these a distinctive organisation like ours. We have already achieved a whole lot. Our working experience displays that occasionally we can acquire time by getting our time. And in other moments, it’s very good to be pragmatic and pace up.

I have no question the EU is on the appropriate monitor to come to be the great electrical power of peace of the 21st century – the century of Europe. For the gain of our men and women, and for a much better, fairer and a lot more sustainable earth.

We will have to be sensible and know when to be patient, and when to seize the moment and take decisive motion. We will adhere to our values and to our ideals. And we will mature in electric power by getting pragmatic, by getting reasonable, and by becoming formidable.

Thank you.