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A Push for EU Values

DW Staff (jen)
November 15, 2006

Germany's Angela Merkel said reminding Europeans of their common values is the key to creating a feeling of unity in the 25 nation bloc.

EU and German flags
Plans for Germany's EU leadership include cutting paperworkImage: AP

Europeans need to keep basic, unifying values in mind, in order for the EU to succeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

Merkel accepting her prize from Luxembourg PM Jean Claude Juncker
Merkel accepting her prize from Luxembourg PM Jean Claude JunckerImage: AP

"Europe will only succeed if it can keep in mind what it is based on– and that is common values," Merkel said in a speech on Tuesday. This is why the EU needs a constitution, which will not only be a legal document, but a charter of basic rights for all EU citizens, she said.

Merkel was in Luxembourg to receive the Vision for Europe award from the Edmond Israel Foundation, in honor of her service toward "shaping the future of Europe."

Key to success: economy

In order for the EU to work, individuals have to find some "added value" in being European, Merkel said in her acceptance speech. And this can only happen when the European economic model is successful and social programs work, she said.

"If the domestic market doesn't function, then Europe is in danger," the chancellor said.

Merkel, who will take over the EU presidency in January, also used the opportunity to make an emphatic plea to slash EU bureaucracy. For instance, she suggested the possibility of setting aside draft legislation dropped during a given European Parliament session.

Plan to cut bureaucracy

"The worst thing is if a citizen cannot find someone he or she can hold responsible for a mistake," she said, adding that the goal should be for the highest possible level of transparency.

Graphic with EU symbol and constitution paper
An EU constitution is disputed but, many agree, necessary

The bureaucracy cuts are among several goals for Germany's six-month presidency starting on Jan. 1. Others include making African development a priority, fighting global warming and relaunching the stalled EU constitution.

The European Commission, often criticized as a bottomless fount of needless paperwork, vowed on Tuesday to slash red tape in the European Union in a bid to boost growth in the 25-nation bloc.