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Angela Merkel speaks in German Bundestag

"We don’t want to end up in a museum of technology"

In spite of the rosy economic situation, the Chancellor has called on Germany to redouble its efforts. "Now we must lay the foundations to ensure that Germany is still economically successful and socially just in ten years and in fifteen years," said Merkel in the German Bundestag.

Angela Merkel at the lectern in the German Bundestag In terms of digital progress, Germany is "not a leader in all areas" says Chancellor Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

On the subject of North Korea, she advocated a diplomatic solution.

At the start of her speech in the German Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out that in many areas Germany is indisputably doing very well. "Today we are a locomotive of growth. We have the highest employment rate this country has ever had. And within Europe we are highly regarded for this," she stressed. "But we must not rest on our laurels," warned the Chancellor.

"New stage of development"

The Chancellor declared herself convinced that "we are about to enter a new stage of development". This has a lot to do with today’s driver of growth – digital process. The challenges in the automobile industry can be seen as though through a burning glass. The automobile industry is one pillar of Germany’s economic success.

Loss of trust in the automobile industry

The German automobile industry is highly regarded around the world. Its products typify what is understood worldwide under the slogan "made in Germany". And that makes it all the more important to ensure that the current loss of trust in automobile manufacturers, caused by the industry executives, does not fall back on the workforce. "This is a task for the whole of our society, to identify mistakes openly, while still helping secure the future of the German automobile industry."

Angela Merkel want to prevent diesel bans

Combustion engines will still be needed for decades to come, declared Angela Merkel with conviction. "But nevertheless we will have to move forward and embrace new engine technologies." She specifically spoke out against bans on diesel vehicles. "We will be focusing all our energy on preventing bans of this sort." If we move against diesel vehicles we are simultaneously torpedoing the CO2 targets we have set ourselves.

"And that must not happen. That is why we need clean diesel vehicles. And we need the transition to modern mobility," stressed the Chancellor. She made it very plain that "unforgiveable mistakes" have been made in the automobile industry. But it is not right to rob the entire branch of its future. We must take proportionate steps, and find the right path forward. "That is what this government stands for," said Angela Merkel.

In the question of cars, all the challenges of the future are mirrored: driverless cars, new engines and climate change mitigation. Angela Merkel said that the plan for climate change mitigation must be translated into more specific terms. And it is important to speak directly with those affected, in the lignite industry, to give one example.

"The world is developing at breakneck speed"

As for digital progress, the Chancellor pointed out that Germany "is not a leader in all areas". A lot has been achieved in industry. The German government has offered medium-sized companies a great deal of support, and has fostered business start-ups.

"But the world is not sleeping. The world is developing at breakneck speed," said Angela Merkel. This is why it is important to develop new products and new production options. "In the past we invented MP3 technology. We built the first computers." Now, she said, Germany must build on that. "We don’t want to end up in a museum of technology," declared the Chancellor.

In the field of digitalising administration too, Germany must make progress, said the Chancellor. "The people must see clearly that their relations to the state too are at last in line with digital progress," she declared.

North Korea – diplomatic solution needed

In terms of foreign policy Angela Merkel looked at the North Korea crisis. North Korea’s actions are a "flagrant breach of all international conventions". There can only be "a peaceful, diplomatic solution" she said. Europe, the Chancellor continued, must work actively for a peaceful solution to the conflict. "Europe has an important voice in the world." And it should use this voice. She pointed to her talks with South Korean President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump. Both of them support Europe’s efforts to bring about a peaceful solution.

Angela Merkel also announced that the EU ministers of foreign affairs will soon be discussing the North Korean crisis. The informal meeting will be held on 7 and 8 September in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. The Chancellor also considers it right that the United Nations Security Council has adopted a clear position on this conflict.

Turkey – release imprisoned Germans

On the situation in Turkey Angela Merkel said that developments in Turkey are more than worrying. "Turkey is moving further and further away from the path of the rule of law, and it is doing so at a very swift pace in some areas," declared the Chancellor. Once again she called for the release of all German nationals held in Turkish prions for political reasons. "We will be doing everything in our power and endeavouring day by day to work for the release of these individuals, who we believe to be innocent of any crime."

Tuesday, 5 September 2017