18th Feb 2019

Merkel and Sarkozy in joint call for 'strong Europe'

With only a few days left to the 4-7 June European elections, Germany and France's centre-right leaders, chancellor Angela Merkel and president Nicolas Sarkozy, have made a joint call on Europeans to head to the polls in the name of a "strong Europe."

In a shared opinion piece published on Sunday (31 May) by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper in France and Die Welt am Sonntag in Germany, the two politicians said they wanted "a strong Europe that protects [its citizens]."

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  • Mr Sarkozy and Ms Merkel called on "all Europeans" to vote in this week's elections (Photo: The Council of the EU)

"A strong Europe does not necessarily mean more powers for the European Union, even more European legislation or even more financial means," Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy wrote.

"We refuse a bureaucratic Europe that mechanically applies the rules ... We want a European Union that listens to the citizens, innovates, revitalises."

Such a Union would "favour the emergence of strong European enterprises" and would "protect the European industry."

It would also have the necessary means to avoid economic crises like the current one.

"The [free-market] liberalism without rules failed. This failure led to the severe crisis that we find ourselves in now."

"The model that we want is that of a responsible market economy," the two conservative leaders wrote, pleading for "a real European regulation in the financial sector."

"On speculative funds, tax havens, payment for executives and financial traders, we want to see an exemplary Europe."

Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy reaffirmed their opposition to an "unlimited enlargement" of the EU, as well as their strong backing for the bloc's Lisbon Treaty.

"Europe must play a leading role in the world. For that, it must have efficient institutions," they said.

In order to succeed, "we need everybody's mobilisation, starting from the citizens," the two leaders concluded.

"We call on all Europeans to vote in the European elections. There is no better way to support the goal of a stronger Europe in a safer world," they wrote.

Their call comes as polls have been indicating voters' turnout will again be low in these elections, after a record low of 45 percent in the last elections in 2004.

In France, one poll published on Sunday said that a majority of 55 percent of French people would not vote, but some analysts have been suggesting abstention could reach as high as 65 percent.

A Europe-wide survey by TNS Opinion last week said that the number of citizens who are certain to vote in some member states – such as the UK, Latvia, Bulgaria and Poland – is only around 15 percent.

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