Speech to the authorities of our country
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In March of last year, our country was struck like never before.
Two months later, we met in this room to commemorate the victims of the attacks.
This emotional and dignified ceremony brought us all together.
It also provided an opportunity to pay our respect to the rescue workers.
Such times allow our country to transcend itself.
By resolutely rejecting division.
By living together and moving forward together.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our society stands at a turning point.
This is not the first time in our history, and will not be the last.
Our society is changing extremely rapidly.
But the last year has seen shocks that no one dared to predict. Yet many people feared.
Populism and the culture of fear and even hatred were underestimated by many people.
This change did not happen over the course of one year.
Hard-line messages of 140 characters have a much greater impact than we thought.
And this harsh tone did not help the democratic debate.
I remain convinced that we should be able to have a debate about every topic.
We do not shy away from direct confrontations.
But any debate must be based on respect and mutual recognition. Providing valid and solid arguments.
In every society, listening to each other and entering into a dialogue is the only way to take a decision. And therefore to live together.
And our democracy is the pre-eminent method for guaranteeing equal opportunities, tolerance and liberty for all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are seeing the fourth industrial revolution.
This will lead to major changes in our daily lives.
There have been successes, such as scientific and medical advances or a reduction in global poverty.
But also concerns. Certain types of jobs are disappearing. And many citizens do not yet see the jobs of tomorrow.
We should not undergo these changes, but prepare ourselves for the world of tomorrow.
Who would have thought, a few years ago, that developing smartphone apps would become such a wide-spread profession?
Our duty is to trigger the changes that will convert these concerns into opportunities.
Our country has never had this many people in work. We should be proud of this.
However, this is not enough in itself.
Youth unemployment rates are worryingly high.
I am convinced that we need to step up our efforts across the board. Our goal should be clear: having better trained young people who are betted prepared for the labour market.
By providing tangible results, specifically for young people, we will be able to push back populism.
By creating additional jobs, while cementing the solidarity and long-term financing of our social security system.
That must be the goal of our common commitment: protecting citizens.
By providing better security and creating the necessary framework for their development. By giving them more accountability and more free choice.
We all want a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we understand the concerns many citizens have about their future.
Populists create the illusion that there is a simple solution for complex challenges. They also drive dissent and polarisation.
Let us not fall into this trap.
Historically, whenever populist movements have taken control, this has led to less freedom and more poverty.
Democracy is fragile. It is not virtuous by nature.
What is key in a democracy is the engagement of its citizens.
Its foundation is trust.
We must all work toward this, relentlessly and without giving up, in our various capacities.
With respect for the distribution of powers and with mutual respect. We all have an exemplary role to play.
I do not underestimate the public’s outrage at supposed conflicts of interest or lack of transparency in the government’s actions.
The damage is done.
The distrust extends to the vast majority of elected officials and public servants who carry out their duties with the utmost respect for the public’s interest.
Transparent decision-making processes, fair pay and eliminating conflicts of interest are clear requirements.
And they gauge the level of confidence in a solid and lively democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A lack of confidence nurtures populism.
That is my conviction.
Many British voters turned their back on Europe because they did not feel protected.
But, above all, they did not trust Europe.
That is why the European Union is at a crossroads.
If we want to inspire trust, we have no time to lose.
Everyone understands that we can only fight terror and climate change by working together.
Building walls in Europe or economic isolation will not bring about a solution.
The Eurozone must become further integrated and face the challenges together.
Member states that do not want take part should not hold us back.
The concerns that keep our citizens awake at night are jobs and security.
Only if Europe manages to move forward in those areas will we be able to convince them.
Europe must therefore focus on its own future, without nostalgia or naivety. But with clear commitment.
The United States are making a mistake if they turn their backs on Europe.
Make America great again… without Europe that will not be possible!
A prosperous continent of 500 million citizens is a strong stakeholder and should inspire trust.
But Europe can only function if it is driven by an ideal.
This ideal is not left-wing or right-wing.
It is the ideal of a strong society that gives each citizen the opportunity to develop themselves.
We need to nourish our democracy on a daily basis.
And earn trust every day.
2017 will be a year full of challenges and therefore full of hope.
Trust and hope, those are my wishes for all of you.