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On the Road to the European Union (November 19, 1981)

This draft of the so-called Single European Act, which Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher introduced to the European Parliament, aimed to revitalize and deepen European integration. Among other things, Genscher proposes closer cooperation in the form of a European Union, a greater role for majority decisions, and an expansion of authority.

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Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to the European Parliament on the Further Development of the European Community

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The Federal German Government has formulated its initiative in coordination with the Italian Government. The draft European Act has been submitted in the form of a joint German-Italian proposal to the governments of the other Member States, to the President of this House and to the President of the Commission of the European Communities.

We hope that this initiative will receive the active support of the European Parliament which, in the opinion of the Federal German Government, has a central role to play in progress towards European Union. I would therefore ask you to give it your support.

The European Community is now in the most economically difficult situation since it was founded. The real national product is expected to fall this year by some 0.5%, inflation will rise to something like 11.5% and the number of people unemployed reached the 9 million level in July and is still rising. Of those 9 million unemployed, 4 million are less than 25 years of age. In 1980, the Community had a foreign trade deficit of almost 120 DM thousand million, and our deficit with our main industrial competitors, the USA and Japan, was 45 DM thousand million and 20 DM thousand million respectively. There can be no doubt whatsoever that our countries will only be able to survive this major economic challenge by standing together.

Madam President, the economic problems we are facing now strike at the very economic root of the European Community and of our democratic systems. But despite this, we must not concentrate our efforts exclusively on economic issues. We must set our sights on the great goal of the political unification of Europe, because it is from this goal that we shall derive the strength to act in a spirit of solidarity and to take decisions – including economic decisions – which amount to more than just make-do-and-mend, but which are genuinely forward-looking solutions – in other words, decisions which do not get stuck in the kind of national self-seeking of which we are all guilty, my own country included. We must find a dynamic way to take us out of and beyond the crisis.

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