Dear speech-fans and friends,

Challenges and how to take up these challenges: this has been the leading theme in European speeches this month.

Little surprise there are several quotes in German this time. No worry: they are so well organised that everything has its translation into English J

Viel Spaß. Enjoy the reading.



State of the European Union

Our European Union is not in a good state.

There is not enough Europe in this Union.

And there is not enough Union in this Union.

We have to change this.

And we have to change this now.

President Juncker, State of the Union 2015: Time for Honesty, Unity and Solidarity, 9 September 2015


What ails Europe, what ails our nations today is a poisonous cocktail of a lack of mutual trust and a lack of self-confidence. We are slow to react to challenges, we are slow to implement even the most obvious common answers, because we do not believe in ourselves, in our ability to adapt, to respond to challenges, to make tomorrow better than today. We are slow to find common answers not because there are no answers, but because we do not trust the word “common”…

First Vice President Timmermans, "Une solidarité de fait", Netherlands Institute of International Relations, 18 September 2015


The Europe we want to achieve

the kind of Europe that we want to work to achieve.

We stand for a Europe that, especially in the face of crises and challenges, can be sure of its great strengths and which must act with its great achievements in mind.

A Europe committed to the weakest and the persecuted,

a Europe of peaceful cooperation between religions and cultures,

a Europe of freedom and democracy and a Europe that, ultimately, time and again brings to mind the beauty of the world and the greatness of humanity.

Bundespräsident Gauck to other European Heads of State on the occasion of the Arraiolos Meeting, 21 September 2015.

More on the 2015 Arrailos meeting


A challenge for all in Europe (speech in the German budget debate)

Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident! Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Meine Damen und Herren!

Unsere Wirtschaft ist stark, unser Arbeitsmarkt robust. In vielen Branchen werden Fachkräfte sogar regelrecht gesucht. Das heißt, man kann sagen, Deutschland ist in diesen Monaten in guter Verfassung.

… so groß die Herausforderung auch ist – diese Herausforderung ist lang andauernd, und sie ist groß; ich mache mir da überhaupt keine Illusionen –, so sehr bin ich überzeugt, dass Deutschland sie bewältigen kann. Mehr noch: Ich bin überzeugt, dass wir es nicht nur können, sondern dass wir, wenn wir es gut machen, wenn wir es mutig angehen, wenn wir nicht verzagt sind, sondern Ideen suchen, wenn wir kreativ sind, letztlich nur gewinnen können. Das sollte uns leiten bei der Bewältigung dieser Herausforderung.

Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, Rede im Deutschen Bundestag, 9 September 2015

More on this Speech in English


Challenges with our neighbors

It was also a very different moment from now. 

The reunification of Europe made all kinds of things seem possible. 

The Rose revolution in Georgia in 2003, the Orange revolution in Ukraine in 2004 made it seem likely that further massive transformation was possible.

Well, those who believed we would easily create a "ring of friends" now find themselves, like in the Johnny Cash song, surrounded by a "ring of fire".

Commissioner Hahn, Theorizing the European Neighbourhood Policy, 17 September 2015


How to contribute to the debate

My world is a day-to-day world. It does not reward analysis and long-term thought.

Your world [academia] is a world that does reward long-term thought and analysis but does not always reward day-to-day elements.

Perhaps we should look for ways to create more cross-fertilisation between these two worlds.

First Vice President Timmermans, European Union and the Rule of Law, Tilburg University, 31 August 2015


Justement, que pouvons-nous apprendre d'un historien?

Dans un débat désordonné, il faut se donner les moyens, j’allais presque dire les moyens rhétoriques, pour soutenir le choc …

On sait tout ce qui ne marche pas : l’arrogance, l’argument d’autorité, le tunnel explicatif.

Ce qui marche n’est pas si évident : cela a à voir aussi avec une forme d’émotion collective.

Je pense qu’il n’est pas raisonnable, quand on a des choses sérieuses à défendre, de se contenter d’être en permanence le pompier de ses propres émotions.

Parce que sinon, on se fait toujours déborder par moins scrupuleux et plus habile que soi…

L'historien P Boucheron, sur comment contribuer au débat, à l'occasion de son élection au Collège de France


The art of storytelling in speeches

Jocelyn had helped to build a radio telescope that recorded signals from very distant parts of the universe, as well as radio interference from man-made transmitters.

One day, she was looking at a 3 mile long print out of all this information, when she found a patchy pulsating signal, which she amplified.

Blip. Blip. Blip.

The signal was constant and strong.

Aliens perhaps?

Months later, while still trying to make sense of these pulses, she detected another patchy signal.

Blip. Blip. Blip.

At 3:00 in the morning, before she left for Christmas holidays, she rushed out to get the cold telescope working for just 5 minutes at full sensitivity.

The signal was the same, but faster and from a completely different part of the sky. This couldn't be aliens. Jocelyn had discovered …

(To find out what she discovered and why we should) Never forget these stories (go the full speech)

Commissioner Moedas, Recognising the Contribution of Women to Science, 24 September 2015


What to say after « Volkswagen. Das Fiasco » ?

(English below)

Volkswagen wird unter meiner Führung alles daran setzen, die strengsten Compliance- und Governance-Standards der gesamten Branche zu entwickeln und umzusetzen. Wenn uns dies alles gelingt, dann hat der Volkswagen Konzern mit seiner Innovationskraft, seinen starken Marken und vor allem seiner kompetenten, hochmotivierten Mannschaft die Chance, langfristig gestärkt aus dieser Krise hervorzugehen.

Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry. If we manage to achieve that then the Volkswagen Group with its innovative strength, its strong brands and above all its competent and highly motivated team has the opportunity to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

Matthias Müller appointed CEO of the Volkswagen Group





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