I am a strong believer that modern political life must rediscover a sense for symbolism. We need to develop a kind of political heroism.

I don’t mean that I want to play the hero. But we need to be amenable once again to creating grand narratives. If you like, post-modernism was the worst thing that could have happened to our democracy. The idea that you have to deconstruct and destroy all grand narratives is not a good one. Since then, trust has evaporated in everything and everyone…

Why do modern democracies refuse to allow their citizens to dream? Why can’t there be such a thing as democratic heroism? Perhaps exactly that is our task: rediscovering something like that together for the 21st century…

Since 2005, when the French and the Dutch voted “no” on a constitution for Europe, nobody has developed a real project for the EU. And certainly not France. If there were ideas, they came from Wolfgang Schäuble or Joschka Fischer, and these German ideas were downright quashed by France. I want to put an end to that…

What I am proposing is to start a new chapter in Europe. To begin this adventure anew, and differently, if you’d like. The institutions as such aren’t particularly important to me – and I think most people feel the same. The problem is that debates over Europe have become disputes between experts and lawyers. Yet Europe was initially supposed to be primarily a political project!

The EU never would have come about had it been up to experts or diplomats. It was created by people who had learned from the drama of our collective history. I am proposing a new beginning, not one in which it is first deliberated ad infinitum what instruments one needs, but one that follows from the goals we want to achieve. What do we want? What should our Europe look like? I want to renew the European dream and reawaken ambitions for it.

For me, Europe consists of three things: sovereignty, unity and democracy. If we keep our eyes on these goals and work toward them together then – and only then – can we fulfill our promise: the guarantee of lasting peace, prosperity and freedom. Let’s put an end to this European civil war, the existence of which we don’t want to admit, and stop constantly looking at whether we are better than our neighboring country at this or the other thing. We have to be open to new things, and that includes things that have been taboo until now: France still insists that the treaties cannot be changed. Germany doesn’t want any financial transfers. We have to leave these old ways of thinking behind.

I think the goal should be that of creating a space that protects us and helps us survive in this world. The European community of values is unique: It combines democracy with the market economy, individual freedoms with social justice. How can we expect the U.S. or China to defend these values, this one-of-a-kind European balancing act that has developed over the course of decades?

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