The Hon. Markus Löning (Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Federal Foreign Office)

17.03.2010 - Interview conducted by Ishveen Singh

If the United States of Europe were to become a reality, how would national sovereignty need to be curtailed?  Will nations have to sacrifice their sovereignty in exchange for unity?

I think nations will not have to sacrifice their sovereignty, but bring together their common interests and then decide to speak with one voice. And, if they do that, then of course, at the end of the day, it is also giving up some sovereignty, but it will make nations stronger. So this is the way that Europe is going to develop I believe.

The financial crisis and the Greek debt crisis have led to calls for the establishment of a fiscal union instead of simply a monetary one. How likely is this, and is it beneficial for a more stable economic union?

I think it is important to have stricter rules on fiscal questions within the Union, especially within the euro zone. I don’t know whether I would call it fiscal union, but we need more rules, stricter rules, and we need to make sure that everybody respects the rules. I think we should give European officials more power to look into (Greek government statistical) books. The crisis is a chance to do that. Germany actually blocked that a few years ago and now that they have found out, the chancellor stated that it was a mistake that we blocked giving euro staff more powers in 2005. We have to learn from that and give institutions more power to look into the national books and impose sanctions if needed.

Is the expansion of the EU solely a geographical consideration and if so, how far should it extend? What other countries traditionally considered "outside" of Europe might qualify?

Europe is not so much a question of geography, but a question of ideas. Although it may seem absurd, Australia, for example, could join the European Union because they share our ideals. So whoever wants to join the EU, or is a neighbor of the EU, should first qualify by implementing the European ideas of rule of law, democracy, market economy and individual freedom. That will qualify a country to join the EU. Here, we’re talking about Turkey, Ukraine and the Balkan countries. I’ve always been a fan of enlarging the EU, because it promotes democracy, which has worked very well so far, and will work even better in the future.