German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for unity and solidarity in her Tuesday’s speech before the European Parliament on the future of the European Union, saying EU countries must respect the interests of others.
Tolerance is the soul of Europe, the key part of what makes us Europeans, and only with that tolerance can we learn to be ready to see the interests and needs of others as our own, Merkel said.
We need to work on a vision of a true European army, she said, and added that did not mean anything against NATO, but that such an army would be a supplement to the alliance.
She spoke on the common currency system, saying the euro zone can succeed only if all the members fulfil their commitments.
She was referring to the issue of Italian budget proposal for 2019, which the European Commission (EC) had rejected in October, saying it violated European rules, and asked Rome to revise it within the next three weeks or face disciplinary measures. It was the first time the EC had rejected a country's draft budget.
Speaking on the issue of EU border protection, Merkel said that, if EU wants to successfully protect common borders, the members must be prepared to turn over some of their national jurisdiction to EU agencies, such as Frontex.
The main duty of Frontex, is to implement EU border controls in coordination with member states.
I am convinced Europe is our best chance for permanent peace, prosperity and a safe future. We cannot miss that chance, we owe it to the past generations as well as those who will come after us, Merkel said, adding that nationalism and egoism must never get another chance in Europe.
The majority of MEPs applauded Merkel’s speech, while members of Eurosceptic parties reacted several times with loud jeers.
Before Merkel, 11 other EU leaders spoke to the European Parliament about their visions of EU's future, including Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.