Vulcan Insight

Chancellor Scholz addresses European Parliament for Europe Day 

12 May 2023

Europe Day is the annual celebration of European peace and unity. It is celebrated on 9 May every year and marks the anniversary of the ‘Schuman Declaration’ delivered by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in 1950. During a the debate in the European Parliament on the day, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed MEPs in Strasbourg and emphasized the need for a united Europe that can adapt to secure its place in the globalised world. He highlighted that the success of Europe is interconnected with the well-being of the rest of the world. 

Scholz identified three lessons for the EU, namely “First, Europe’s future is in our hands. Secondly, the more united Europe is, the easier it will be to secure a good future for ourselves. And thirdly, not less but more openness and more cooperation are the order of the day.” His speech, further, underlined the importance of the situation in Ukraine. Scholz emphasized the need for the EU to indicate the course for its reconstruction. He stressed that a strengthened and European Ukraine is the most effective rejection of Putin’s politics. Scholz expressed that the 21st century is shaped by a multipolar world, and the EU must make necessary changes to become a future-proof, geopolitical, and enlarged Union.

The Chancellor underlined the importance of cooperation with countries in the global south, addressing food security and poverty reduction, and keeping the EU’s promises on climate protection made on the international level. Scholz emphasized the need for a geopolitical and enlarged EU that is able to cope with competition and ensure Europe’s position in the world. He called for a sincere EU enlargement approach that implements promises made, particularly to the states of the Western Balkans. On migration and asylum, he emphasized the necessity to manage and regulate irregular migration better without betraying European values.

He, further, announced plans to push for applying  decision-making by qualified majority to more decisions dealing with foreign policy and taxation. Although many decisions in the European Union are made through a qualified majority of member states, certain areas still require unanimity among all 27 member states. This particularly applies to decisions pertaining to foreign and security policy. The full speech can be read here

Most MEPs reacted positively to Scholz’s proposals, calling for courage from Europe’s leaders to take the EU into the future and demanded Scholz to encourage a Convention before the upcoming European elections in 2024. Some MEPs criticized Germany for providing delayed support to Ukraine and the EU for providing further resources to the arms industry. Other MEPs stressed the importance of fighting the war’s  financialimpact on citizens. Several speakers highlighted how critical the Union’s green and digital transition is and urged more investment in relevant sectors.

On the occasion of Europe Day, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv. She discussed further sanctions against Russia with President Zelenskyy, announcing the 11th package of EU sanctions. Von der Leyen’s visit stressed the European Union’s support, while at the same time, Putin presided over a military parade on the Red Square to celebrate the country’s victory in World War II while he stressed that his own country is currently under attack by the West. Ukraine adopted Europe Day on Monday in an effort to mark its efforts to join Western institutions. The country applied for EU membership in 2022, after the Russian invasion.