IEP Lunch Debate with Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering: “Fortunately United: Retrospective and perspective of the European integration”
The IEP lunch debate on the topic of „Fortunately United: Retrospective and perspective of the European integration“ with Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, took place at the Representation of the European Commission in Berlin on 4 December 2014 on the occasion of the publication of his book “Wir sind zum Glück vereint. Mein europäischer Weg”. Prof. Dr. Hartmut Marhold, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of the Institut für Europäische Politik and Director of Research and Development of Centre international de formation européenne (cife), moderated the event.
An introductory speech was given by Richard Kühnel, Representative of the European Commission in Germany and Frank Piplat, Head of the European Parliament Information Office in Germany. The two gave a short biograph of the dedicated European politician and highlighted his skills as an arbiter while Head of the European’s People Party from 1999 to 2007 and as 23rd President of the European Parliament from 2007 to 2009. In the following discussion Hans-Gert Pöttering and Hartmut Marhold took stock of different stages of the guest’s 35-years career as a European parliamentarian. During their talk, both speakers connected Pöttering’s personal experiences with current political matters. Marhold outlined the former President of the European Paliament’s strong dedication to European integration biographically. Through experiences gained during the postwar period and the division of Germany, Pöttering developed a “deep rootedness“ in the concept Europe. Alongside this, Pöttering commented that the main drivers in his career were “firm principles, friends and luck”. Pöttering emphasized the importance of the interplay between subsidiarity and solidarity as being the key element of the European Union along with Freedom and the legal system. Furthermore, he embraced the strengthening of the European Parliament as a way to close the gap between citizens and the EU.
The lively discussion with the audience which followed raised questions on different aspects of European policy. Pöttering articulated that he had long been committed to integrating Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the EU. He accentuated that Europe should not ignore the Baltic region’s worries concerning their territorial integrity. Nevertheless, regarding the question whether the new President Donald Tusk would complicate relations with Russia, Pöttering remained confident. He emphasized the importance of the right of self-determination of all people. At the same time, he underlined the role of Russia as a necessary partner.
By Richard Steinberg and Andrew Campbell