A bimonthly magazine on international affairs, edited in Germany's capital

Leaving Nobody Behind


The EU is experiencing the worst storm since its inception, says Norbert Röttgen, chair of the German Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee. Solidarity and frankness are key to weather it.


Artwork: Dominik Herrmann

The EU – specifically the eurozone – seems to resemble a group of mountain hikers in the path of an oncoming storm. Should they try to climb to the next shelter? Or head back to base camp? The entire group has to hang in there and make it to the next shelter!

Should a smaller, “pioneering” group explore the way first? No, all members must stay together and depart immediately. Otherwise each will respectively face greater danger. There is no other possibility but for the whole group to reach the next shelter as quickly as possible. They do, however, face an additional difficulty: only a few, to continue our metaphor, are really familiar with the weather report and are unable to communicate the severity of the weather warning to the rest of the group.

… meaning the EU is facing the greatest storm since World War II – but this isn’t being openly communicated? Exactly. Communication within the group is already difficult enough but to get information to home base in order to receive support is even more challenging. They would have to provide clear answers to a few questions: What position are we in? Where are the threats coming from? What has to be done so we do not leave anyone behind?

And where does this path lead? The question is: what kind of shelter do we need in order for all of us to be safe? Both the European Union and the eurozone need reforms to develop the necessary capacities to address our pressing problems and challenges.

Europe has become the destination of choice for hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East. The problem is too big to be ignored and cannot be solved on the national level. Therefore we need suitable European instruments to respond to this new situation. We must develop a common European refugee policy. We are talking about the very essence of European solidarity – if we fail here, Europe risks to fall apart.

Read the complete article in the Berlin Policy Journal App – September/October 2015 issue.