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Merkel Joins Lahm, Schmidt in Campaign to Promote Europe

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Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- German foundations affiliated with Allianz SE, BMW AG and Bertelsmann AG are to start a media campaign to make the case for Europe as the crisis in the euro area threatens to erode public faith in the region’s future.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will deliver a video message at the start in Berlin tomorrow of the print, television and online campaign entitled “I want Europe,” the Stiftung Mercator public-policy group said on its website. Led by President Joachim Gauck, it will feature personalities from sport, politics, culture and society giving “a positive signal for a strong Europe.”

“In recent months, the image of Europe has been tainted by negative headlines,” Mercator said. “The advantages that have already been won and the chances that Europe offers its citizens have been lost from sight.”

The campaign is the first concerted effort to champion the cause of closer European integration amid concerns that bailout fatigue among voters may translate to wider disaffection with Germany’s post-World War II commitment to the European Union. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has spoken in favor of a referendum at some point on Germany’s relationship with Europe, possibly as a result of a Sept. 12 Constitutional Court ruling.

A total of 11 foundations are participating in the current campaign, which will feature “ambassadors” including former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, German national soccer team captain Philipp Lahm, Dieter Zetsche, the head of Daimler AG, and Tom Enders of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

Greek ‘Example’

Separate members of Merkel’s CSU Bavarian sister party criticized Greece, Italy and the European Central Bank of Mario Draghi this month, calling for “an example” to be made of the Greek government to send a signal to Spain and Italy. With Greece looking for more time to meet the terms of its international bailouts, Germany’s best-selling Bild newspaper has also called for the country to be kicked out of the euro.

“Europe was and is the key to the future for Germany,” said Mercator, one of seven groups that urged Merkel in a December 2010 open letter to work for economic union in Europe.

“It’s through Europe that Germany has grown strong,” Mercator said. “Germany’s state sovereignty and unity have been advanced by Europe just as have its economic power and prosperity.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Crawford in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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