Wolfgang Schaeuble urges political union in Europe

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in Europe, the Charlemagne Prize, for his efforts to stabilize the euro.

karlspreisSchäuble, who has been confined to a wheelchair since an assassination attempt in 1990 left him paralyzed from the waist down, has been a central figure in German politics for almost three decades.

“The crisis must be used as a chance to strengthen Europe, including through a directly elected president of the EU’s top executive body, the European Commission, to give the bloc a face and more political weight. Europe’s political unity must have a face and that face must represent a legitimate power,” Schaeuble said as he accepted the International Charlemagne Prize in the western German city of Aachen.

“We must now create a political union in Europe,” he stressed, calling on policymakers to make the right decisions and think about strengthening the bloc’s institutions. He cautioned, however, that such a move cannot be achieved quickly, but must happen through a step-by-step approach. “Compared to a revolution, evolution has many advantages, not least that it happens voluntarily and peacefully,” he said.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who also chairs the group of the eurozone’s 17 finance ministers, praised Schaeuble as a true European patriot. “We need — as Wolfgang Schaeuble also puts it — not less Europe, but more,” he said in an opening address in Aachen’s historical city hall.

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