The European Union needs policies that are based on free trade and the bloc must pursue deals with other countries to ensure it does not become isolated, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German parliament on Thursday (March 9) before an EU leaders summit.
“Even if we see a nationalist, protectionist approach on the rise in parts of the world, Europe must never lock itself in, seal itself off and withdraw,” said Merkel.
“Europe must preserve its openness towards the world, especially in trade policy,” she said.
Merkel said that talks with other countries regarding trade agreements must continue.
That did not mean, she said, that she did not believe in the value of the transatlantic relationship. “That is not in contradiction with the fact that I strongly believe that the transatlantic relationship, based on our values, is good for everyone, not just for us Europeans.“
Merkel also called for more EU involvement in the future, with the EU taking on more responsibility. “And not only in our immediate neighborhood, but also further away. That starts with the situation at the Western Balkans about which we will talk about at the European council,” she said.
“It is important to furnish the military and civil abilities of the member states not only financially, but also to interlock them better structurally. Because we know there is not a military solution of a conflict only, but we also know that without the military it is often not possible,” she added.
The Chancellor also said she hoped for Donald Tusk’s re-election as president of the European Council.
“I see his re-election as a sign of stability for entire EU. I am looking forward to continuing the cooperation with him,” she stated.
Tusk’s term at the head of the European Council ends in May. The former Polish Prime Minister, has wide backing among EU leaders for a second term, even though he faces strong opposition in Poland.