Putting the European Union on the right track of the bottom-up integration is a project for two or three decades, not a couple of years as Hermann Otto Solms, former Vice President of the German Bundestag, warned in Prague on the occasion of opening the European Think Tank School. Mr. Solms, who was chairing a panel of experts on the Future of the European Union, introduced the recommendations from the manifesto called ‘A Europe of Freedom for and by its People’ which resulted from this expert group.
Europe’s biggest asset is its enormous diversity in a small area. To find the unity in diversity, which is the leading motto of the integration process in Europe, remains undisputed. It is much more difficult, however, to find the right way to reach this goal. Mr. Solms outlined several principles that could help Europe find new dynamism: bottom-up integration where states are allowed to integrate and develop at different speeds, doing more in fewer policy fields, enforcing subsidiarity and preventing creeping centralisation. The whole text of the manifest can be downloaded here.
The debate with the participants of the European Think Tank School also touched on the disputed topic of the euro crisis: Mr. Solms insisted that the market mechanism should be used to resolve the crisis. This means, above all, strict responsibility of each member state for its sound public finances. This is why German liberals fiercely opposed the Euro-bonds – they would lead to mixed and vague joint liability, which would only strengthen the moral hazard of some politicians. Mr. Solms admitted that Germany made a big mistake when it breached the Stability and Growth Pact criteria in 2003 during Schröder´s government as it also supported moral hazard within the European Union. Although liberals were voted out of the German Bundestag recently, Mr. Solms expects that even the possible great coalition will not change German position on Euro-bonds radically.
The key-note speech of H.O. Solms launched a weekend capacity building workshop for liberal think tankers in Europe. The event was organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom together with the European Liberal Forum. The event was also an opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of international activity of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom by presenting the main goals of the foundation in the field of foreign policy and playing the anniversary video.
- Anniversary video: HERE