This week in Say More, PS talks with Sigmar Gabriel, a former foreign minister and vice chancellor of Germany, and Chairman of Atlantik-Brücke.
Project Syndicate: In your most recent PS commentary, you argued that “in order to renew the image of liberal democracy in an age of rising authoritarianism,” Europe must finally overcome “long-standing political hurdles to deeper economic integration.” But the main parties and politicians in Germany have so far been largely silent on this issue as they prepare for next month’s federal elections. What should Germany’s next government do to advance progress on integration? Are there steps other European leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, could take to convince Germans that investing in Europe would bring “enormous returns”?
Sigmar Gabriel: It is not the task of Emmanuel Macron or Mario Draghi to convince the Germans that investing in Europe would bring huge gains. The Germans should recognize this themselves. After all, Germany is not a “net contributor country” in the European Union. We do make larger financial contributions than we get back in subsidies from Europe, but that is not even half the bill. As a large export-oriented economy, we draw the most value from the European project.
Germany has been Europe’s export champion for decades. All this means is that we sell more goods and services to our neighbors than we buy from them. And, in fact, only 10% of Germany’s exports go to the United States or China, while more than 40% go to Europe. Economic success, growth, and social stability in European countries is therefore in Germany’s interest. Only if they are doing well can they buy our products, and only if they buy our products do we have jobs.