We must defend Europe's values
At the start of her government statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled the peaceful end to the division of Germany and Europe, 25 years ago. "We must never forget how lucky we are to have a united Europe, against the backdrop of European history and against the backdrop of current crises and wars."
Peace, liberty and prosperity are by no means self-evident. "We must always be prepared to stand up for them. We must protect and defend our values." She praised the role played by the Polish freedom movement, which she said was decisive in overcoming the division of Germany and Europe. She welcomed the appointment of former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as the new President of the European Council.
The goal is a sovereign Ukraine with territorial integrity
Coexistence in Europe is based on partnership, the law and respect – not on spheres of influence. These principles must also be respected in relations between Russia and Ukraine, said the Chancellor. "The aim of our actions is, and will remain, a sovereign Ukraine with territorial integrity, which can take charge of its own future."
The Chancellor pledged Ukraine further support. She called on Ukraine to fight corruption and strengthen its economy.
With Russia, not against Russia
The German government continues to seek dialogue on the same scale with Russia. "The goal is and will remain European security with Russia, not against Russia." It is important to the Chancellor to step up contacts between the two civil societies. "But this is not a path we can take alone. It is up to Russia to accept the offer of dialogue on the basis of the European peace order."
Europa cannot and will not allow Russia to violate the principles of the law, of respect and of partnership, said Angela Merkel. "Until this goal is achieved, the sanctions will remain in place."
Taking Europe to new economic strength
Europe must recover strength, especially economic strength. This remains the major challenge for the months and years to come. "We have this crisis under control, but we have not completely overcome the crisis."
Angela Merkel pointed to the progress that Europe has made in overcoming the financial crisis. Ireland, Portugal and Spain have been able to leave the rescue programme. In 2013, the EU states managed for the first time since 2008 to push their average deficits below the three per cent level laid out in the Stability and Growth Pact. With the completion of the banking union a permanent mechanism is now in place for managing crises.
To overcome the crisis in the long term the Chancellor once again advocated stepping up the coordination of economic and monetary policy in the EU. This will be discussed in the months to come. She also called on member states to comply with the provisions of the Stability and Growth Pact.
Mobilising private investment
Growth, employment and investment must be fostered. The investment plan presented by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, lays a sound foundation, she said. The Chancellor welcomed the fact that the plan is based on mobilising private investment. "It always has been and always will be private businesses that create jobs and innovate." She also considers it crucial that the European Investment Bank select projects and check the economic viability of projects. "This is not something that politicians can do," said Angela Merkel.
It is important to invest in the branches of the future and to focus on sustainable growth. Angela Merkel mentioned the digital economy, small and medium enterprises and the energy sector in this context.
Investment is, however, only one component in economic revival in Europe. The pro-growth consolidation of national budgets must also be continued. And more structural reforms are needed, as well as cutting through red tape – at national and European level. The Chancellor pointed to the joint working group of the German and French ministers of finance and economic affairs, which is currently identifying important projects for Europe.
TTIP – laying down international standards
Angela Merkel also talked about the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. "Germany in particular, as an exporting nation, must remain open to world trade." Angela Merkel expressed her conviction that "the opportunities to boost growth and employment far outweigh the risks of the free trade agreement with the United States of America and Canada".
The chance to help shape the agreement and to enforce high European standards at international level, must be seized. "This is in the interests of consumers in Europe."