World Bulletin / News Desk
"It is no longer the case that the United States is simply going to protect us, but rather Europe must take its fate into its own hands. That’s the task of the future,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her speech at the award ceremony of International Charlemagne Prize in Aachen.
She underlined that the world has changed completely since the Cold War, and the EU was now facing various conflicts in its immediate neighborhood.
Merkel said the EU has to play a stronger role to find diplomatic and peaceful solutions to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, civil war in Syria, and to the tensions with Iran.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who was awarded with this year’s Charlemagne Prize for his vision of a new Europe, renewed call for major political and economic changes within the EU to make it a stronger player in addressing today’s challenges.
“We have to take clear decisions,” he said, and underlined that EU member states, which have a desire for deeper political and economic integration, should move forward with their plans, without waiting for those who have been skeptical.
“28 member states cannot always agree on everything. We have to act, because that’s how we have always progressed,” he stressed.
“The rules are clear, doors are open. All who want it can join us,” he added.
Macron’s proposals for a deeper integration has been criticized by leading Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The French President’s call for radical eurozone reforms -- including a joint eurozone budget --faced opposition from northern European member states, including Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.