The open society as a safeguard for Europe

‘Let us remember the power of freedom – then we will succeed.’

Dr Werner Hoyer delivered the 13th Berlin Speech on Freedom


Europe is a house built brick by brick in many small steps – and I don’t want to be the one accused by its children of taking a wrecking ball to the building. We must up our game in order to protect our prosperity and peace.’ Dr Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, is not only an observer but also a player in European politics. For this reason, he was invited by the Foundation to deliver the 13th Berlin Speech on Freedom before the European Parliament elections and speak about Europe as a project of freedom.

‘For people outside, Europe is a huge model of success and a great role model. Around the globe, it is regarded as a model of peace, of good economy, and of integration.’ This model of success, Dr Hoyer added, must not be wrecked by strong-man politics. For such politics tapped into people’s fears in a new way, by using novel technologies. Emmanuel Macron had touched a nerve by directly addressing the citizens of Europe – which was at odds with the national navel-gazing of certain populist politicians. ‘The open society remains the best defence against the ideas of the strong man,’ Hoyer said. More and more often, young people were losing interest in democratic ideas: they had not witnessed the fight against Nazism and had to learn to understand the system of freedom anew. Europe was now in need of a society in which the powerful commit to the truth.

Speakers on freedom at the Brandenburg Gate include personalities from politics, business, academia, and the arts. In their addresses on the value of freedom, they provide an impetus for a liberal and open society. Previous speakers of the Berlin Speech on Freedom have included: Udo di Fabio, Heinrich August Winkler, Joachim Gauck, Paul Nolte, Peter Sloterdijk, Karl Cardinal Lehmann, Gabor Steingart, Mark Rutte, Zhanna Nemzowa, Ryszard Petru, Christian Lindner, and Timothy Garton Ash.

Hoyer emphasised that Europe is a model for peace, good economy and integration

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