Sunday

27th Nov 2022

Obama urges EU nations to stick together

  • Obama was in Hannover on the last day of his European tour (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

US president Barack Obama has urged EU nations to stick together and praised German chancellor Angela Merkel for welcoming refugees.

Speaking in Hannover, Germany, on the fourth day of a European tour, he said the economic crisis coupled with the migration crisis “have led some to question whether European integration can long endure; whether you might be better off separating off.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • US leader praised Merkel for her "steady hands" in time of crisis (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

“European unity can require frustrating compromise … We understand how easy it must be to vent at Brussels and complain,” he said.

“Perhaps you need an outsider, somebody who is not European, to remind you of the magnitude of what you have achieved,” he added.

He said the US and the wider world “needs a strong and prosperous and democratic and united Europe”, which he described as “one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times.”

“Remember that every member of your union is a democracy. That's not an accident. Remember that no EU country has raised arms against another. That's not an accident … people desperately want to come here precisely because of what you've created,” he said.

Obama’s speech came shortly before the UK referendum in June on whether to leave the EU.

It came more broadly amid concern that the EU might unravel as members squabble over how to handle the huge numbers of refugees.

In a sign of the times, in Austria last weekend a far-right candidate came top in the first round of the presidential election. In Germany, Merkel’s approval rating has plunged due to her initially welcoming approach to refugees.

Obama praised her for her “steady hands” and her “moral compass.”

“Chancellor Merkel and others have eloquently reminded us that we cannot turn our backs on our fellow human beings who are here now, and need our help now,” he said.

He cited Islamist terrorism and “Russian aggression” as the greatest threats to European security.

He said he would send 250 more US special forces to Syria to help in the fight against the jihadist group Islamic State and urged EU countries to share intelligence despite people’s concerns on privacy rights.

“If we truly value our liberty, then we have to take the steps that are necessary to share information and intelligence within Europe, as well as between the United States and Europe,” he said.

“Russian aggression has flagrantly violated the sovereignty and territory of an independent European nation, Ukraine, and that unnerves our allies in Eastern Europe,” he added.

'Complacent EU'

He said he wants “good relations” with Russia. But he said that “we need to keep sanctions on Russia in place” until it stops the war in east Ukraine.

He also urged Nato countries to rely less on the US for their security needs. “I'll be honest, sometimes Europe has been complacent about its own defence,” he said.

Obama later on Tuesday met with the British, French, German and Italian leaders also in Hannover prior to going home.

He began his tour in the UK on Friday where his exhortation for the UK to stay in the EU drew howls of protest from the Brexit campaigners.

His praise of Merkel’s “moral compass” comes after she authored an EU deal with Turkey to take back migrants despite complaints of human rights abuses by leading NGOs.

Meanwhile, his tough line on Russia is not shared by everybody in Berlin.

Speaking to the Handelsblatt newspaper at the weekend, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was time to “engage in a process of rapprochement” with Russia despite it actions in Ukraine.

“The current G7 format is not an end in itself. Personally, I would favour setting out conditions - sooner rather than later - to enable a return to the G8 format,” he added, referring to Russia’s membership in the club of leading world nations.

Obama: No quick UK trade deal if it leaves EU

Obama in London served a big blow to the Leave campaign saying the UK will be in the "back of the queue" in negotiating a trade deal with the US, if it were to leave the EU.

Obama: US needs Britain inside EU

Obama said in direct appeal to British voters that EU magnifies British foreign policy, while Britain helps to keep the EU from becoming introverted.

Socialists opposed parliament taking Qatar rights stand

The socialists in the European Parliament are leading compromise talks on human rights in Qatar despite voting against putting the issue to a plenary vote. The move comes after the Left demanded that the European Parliament take a stand.

No top EU officials going to Qatar World Cup

None of the four top EU officials are going to the Qatar World Cup amid a stink on human rights, but some are more brave than others in criticising the gas-rich emirate.

Socialists opposed parliament taking Qatar rights stand

The socialists in the European Parliament are leading compromise talks on human rights in Qatar despite voting against putting the issue to a plenary vote. The move comes after the Left demanded that the European Parliament take a stand.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges
  2. The 'proof' problem with EU sanctions — and how to fix it
  3. The EU gas cap: will the bottle ever be 'uncorked'?
  4. Enough talk, only rights can eliminate patriarchal violence
  5. Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'
  6. EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo
  7. 'No substance' price ceiling for gas leaves everyone disgruntled
  8. Paying consumers who save most energy could tame gas prices

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us