Everybody was looking forward to this friday when German federal president Joachim Gauck would deliver his speech on Europe. The full speech in English is available at the webpage of the president.
Now after the speech the media checkup gives one clear picture: a brave pro-European speech. The president called for more Europe and demanded a European patriotism. He clearly argued against rising euroscepticism and explained why we need the process of more European integration. Very well.
The problem is that this speech was given by a president who have one main purpose: to represent. The German president is not (and shall not be) involved into daily governmental politics. Thus presidents in Germany often use a speech as a weapon to influence the political agenda. Most famous is the “Ruck Rede” by former president Roman Herzog.
So the big question is how sustainable this speech today will be. Will it change the political behaviour of the current governments in the 27 member states? I don’t believe so. All the people already convinced about the the European integration process were nodding today hearing the words of president Gauck. But what about those who still need to be convinced?
If chancellor Merkel would have hold this speech today it would be a totally different situation. She is running the show for Germany on European level. Having said these words her politics towards Europe would have needed to coincide with her actions.
Gaucks speech will not change things. It was nice to have heard it this friday, now comes the weekend and on Monday nobody will talk about this speech anymore. Go ahead to the next European Council and check whether this speech will somehow influence the politics on the summit. No way.
We need a European spirit on a daily basis – lived with commitment by the citizens. It’s nice to have speeches like the one from today but it won’t help to create the European future unless the right politicians have the courage to deliver such a speech.