Speaking to prospective voters in the Baltic Sea resort town of Zingst two months before a federal election on Saturday, Merkel said the UK’s vote to leave the EU and France and the Netherlands’ election of pro-EU politicians had affected her thinking about the bloc.
“Something changed when we saw the Britons wanting to leave… But we have realized in the last few months that Europe is more than just bureaucracy and economic regulation, that Europe and living together in the European Union have something to do with war and peace, that the decades of peace after World War Two would have been completely unthinkable without the European Union,” she said.
She said the Britons’ weak bonds with the EU, put next to France and the Netherlands’ strong re-commitment to the bloc, had refreshed her image of a united European continent. She said a stronger Europe, to her, meant a “better” and “stronger” Germany.
“Europe is more than an economy. Europe is also a matter of living together peacefully, safely and freely, and therefore that’s why it is good for Germany to stand up for Europe because if Europe is doing better, us Germans do better,” she said.
“Therefore, it is worth it to fight for Europe and not just leave it to the EU parliamentarians. That’s why one of our election placards is saying: ‘If Europe is stronger, Germany will be stronger,’” Merkel said.
She expressed determination to deepen European integration if she is re-elected chancellor for a fourth term.
Merkel’s rival due in Paris
Also on Saturday, Merkel’s rival, Martin Schulz, announced he would be meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday.
A former president of the European Parliament, Schulz will give a speech about the future of Europe in the French capital.
He is expected to outline his plans for a stronger EU during a news conference on Sunday.
Schulz hopes to unseat Chancellor Merkel in the September 24 elections.