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Germany must shift from crisis mode to steady leadership in Europe

Germany must lead the way from the euro crisis to political union in Europe, writes former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. Berlin should convince all European partners of its determination to follow the federal path and propose a clear road map toward a federal Europe.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center) and her fellow parliamentarians line up to vote on a Spanish bank aid package in the Bundestag on July 19. Op-ed contributor former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi writes: 'Germany might think it is too big for Europe, but it is certainly too small to face alone the new global challenges when compared to the United States or China.'

Thomas Peter/Reuters

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Germany and Europe share a common destiny, a destiny requiring Germany to assume a real leadership. Germany cannot disengage from Europe. In the past, famous thinkers such as Goethe, Kant, and Schiller brought Germany to the forefront of the effort to reconcile national identity, European action, and cosmopolitan responsibility. Today, Germany must once again return to its best traditions to relaunch Europe and prepare a better future.

During the current crisis, we have felt that Germany, rightly proud of its economic performance, has adopted a certain sense of self-sufficiency. But if Berlin renounces its historical role in Europe, that would spell the political end of both Europe and Germany. Nobody, not even the Germans, should be under the illusion they can go it alone: Only united will the Europeans be able to face the increasing global challenges.

I am afraid that all the Europeans, including Germans, are running the same risk. Germany might think it is too big for Europe, but it is certainly too small to face alone the new global challenges when compared to the United States or China. Therefore, Germany needs Europe, too. And it needs a “European” Europe, not a “German” one.

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