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Obama at the bedside of Europeans gives meaning to the Union

ObamaMerkel@DE160424(B2)" I have come here today, to the heart of Europe, to say that the United States, and the whole world, need a Europe that is strong and prosperous and democratic and united. » Barack Obama's speech in Hanover wasn't just one or two sentences. It is a vibrant plea made by the American president in favor of Europe.

If Europe starts to doubt then...

« If a peaceful, liberal, pluralistic and free-market Europe begins to doubt, to question the progress made over the past decades, then we cannot expect (for) progress in the world to continue”. 

A stranger's tribute to one of the greatest political achievements

« Maybe you need a foreigner, someone who is not European, to remind you of the magnitude of what you have achieved ". “Your achievement – ​​more than 500 million people speaking 24 languages ​​in 28 countries, 19 with a common currency – remains one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times. »

A bit of American balm on European wounds

The American president's tour of Europe had all the makings of a restorative trip. In London, Obama came to remind the British how much it was in their interest to stay in Europe and, thereby, lend a helping hand to a struggling Cameron to convince his compatriots to refuse Brexit. In Hanover, he came to the aid of Chancellor Merkel battered by the events of the migration crisis, to say that “a handful of countries should not bear the full burden of resettling refugees. We all have to share this responsibility,” asserting that the United States was ready to take its share of this welcome. Finally, he also reassured the Italians about the role of the United States and NATO in the southern part of the Mediterranean.

Compromise can be frustrating

Barack Obama did not, however, deny the difficulties. “ European unity may require frustrating compromise. It adds layers of government that can slow down decision-making. I understand. I went to meetings with the European Commission. And, as an American, we (can) be dismissive of government. We understand how easy it is to come to Brussels and complain. » But " remember that every member of your union is a democracy. This is not an accident. Remember that no EU country has used weapons against another. It's not an accident. »

Making Europe work better

« There is (also) no doubt that the way united Europe works together can be improved explained the head of the American government. Corn " look around the world – where authoritarian governments and theocracies rule through fear and oppression – there is no doubt that democracy is still the most just and effective form of government ever created ". As for the reception and integration of foreigners, it makes “ our countries are stronger, safer and more effective when we welcome and include people of all backgrounds and faiths. And that includes our fellow citizens who are Muslims.”. And pan for Donald Trump…

Comment: it was therefore necessary for an American president to come and tell the Europeans: raise your heads, be proud of yourselves, of your values, of your past, assume your role at home and in the world... This is not are just words. But in recent times, few European political leaders have dared to use this language, with such strength, simplicity and brilliance. It was time…

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).