Schaeuble Says Germany Can't Hide in Europe's `Crisis Years'

  • Germans need to `accept this responsibility' on world stage
  • Europe can't face global forces if its economy is weak

Germany must take on greater responsibility to help Europe master its “crisis years,” using its economic power to provide solutions, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

While Germans still struggle to accept the country’s increased importance in the world, in part “because we have a different past than others,” global forces dictate that they can’t hide, Schaeuble said Wednesday as he marked 25 years since East and West Germany reunited into one country after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“We must accept this responsibility and we must do it justice in this Europe of the crisis years, the crises around Europe,” Schaeuble, who helped negotiate German reunification in 1990, said in a speech in Berlin. “The desire to stay out of the things of this world -- that’s not possible.”

The comments reflect Germany’s balancing act as Europe’s biggest economic power, enforcer of fiscal discipline in the euro area and one of Europe’s main havens for refugees fleeing war in places such as Syria. Chancellor Angela Merkel, arriving for a European Union summit on the refugee crisis in Brussels on Wednesday, said the EU needs a more active foreign policy.

Germany has a responsibility to help solve “Europe’s economic and institutional problems,” Schaeuble said. “If Europe does not have the economic power then it will not be able to cope with the problems coming to Europe from the outside.”