I am a child of Europe. Europe is my home. Every position that I have worked in for the last 27 years was European in nature. I owe to Europe what I am today.
My children have never known how our countries used to close themselves off against each other. Just consider the change in the world of business: I remember how in 1990, I was hiring engineers for a factory in the rural region of Niedereifel in Western Germany. Then, eight out of ten applicants said: “English? What do you mean? I’ve studied to become an engineer, not an interpreter.”
Today, not only do eight out of ten young engineers speak fluent English as a matter of course. They also have studied abroad for a semester or two. What an enormous change in just 25 years! Europe is not reversible.
It is true that today, Europe faces a problem. But its problem isn’t specifically European. It is the loss of confidence that all big institutions have to contend with – banks, energy companies or indeed government institutions in Berlin or Brussels. All those institutions that people regard as very big and very difficult to influence.
How do we overcome this situation? What is true for my company is also true for Europe: We have to say what we do, and we have to do what we say. That sounds very simple, but it contains a lot of truth.