President of Germany’s EU message for Britain: 'Stay with us, we need you!'

Joachim Gauck makes emotional appeal for UK not to leave Union in keynote speech

The President of Germany has issued an unexpected and emotional appeal to the British people not to abandon the European Union.

In a keynote speech on Europe, Joachim Gauck, a hugely popular former East German dissident, said that while it was up to the British people to “decide on their own future” he hoped they would listen to his case for the UK to remain within the EU.

Using rather unconventional diplomatic language, he said: “Dear people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, dear new British citizens.

“We would like you to stay with us. We need your experience as the oldest parliamentary democracy, we need your traditions, your pragmatism and your courage.

“During the Second World War, your efforts helped to save our Europe – and it is also your Europe. Let us continue to engage in discussion on how to move towards the European res publica, for we will only be able to master future challenges if we work together. More Europe cannot mean a Europe without you.”

Mr Gauck’s comments about Britain and the EU were the first to draw applause from the 200 guests attending the speech, which was delivered in his official Berlin residence today. Most of the audience were under 30. 

His remarks reflected the serious concerns held by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government about Britain’s perceived distancing from Europe and David Cameron’s readiness to be influenced by the anti-Europe wing of his own party and the United Kingdom Independence Party.

Indeed, President Gauck prefaced his appeal with implied criticism of Mr Cameron. He said he “listened with interest” to the Prime Minister’s “dual message” of the “Yes” to British traditions and to British interests “which is not intended to be a ‘No’ to Europe”.

Public opinion on the issue in Germany is divided. Several columnists have argued that the British will never be fully-fledged EU members because of their insular outlook and that they should therefore leave.

But many other commentators have welcomed Mr Cameron’s criticisms of the EU’s lack of democratic accountability and its overspending. Some have also suggested that they would welcome such candid views from German politicians.

Germany also believes that Britain is a useful counterbalance to France in disagreements in areas such as the EU budget. It fears an EU without Britain would veer to the left with decisions being pushed through between an alliance of France and left-leaning Southern European states.

In his speech Mr Gauck addressed some of the fears held by EU citizens about the eurozone debt crisis and acknowledged that a “structural flaw” had led to an imbalance in the European Union which was only patched up by emergency measures such as the European Stability Mechanism and the fiscal compact. But he added that the crisis wa s more than just economic. “It is also a crisis of confidence in Europe as a political project,” he said.

Stressing Germany’s commitment to Europe he insisted: “It was from our country that the attempts to destroy everything European and all universal values were unleashed. Despite everything, the Allies granted our country support and solidarity straight after the war.” Mr Gauck insisted that despite Berlin’s economic might, it had no aspirations to impose a “German diktat” on Europe.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital