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United for the Better: My European Way

by Hans-Gert Pöttering
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ISBN: 9780993454967 Published: 26 September 2016

Description

This is the autobiography of former president of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering, published for the first time in English.

His autobiography is both a personal story and a narrative of Europe’s journey out of the chaos and hatred of World War II and the post-war division between East and West. The author never knew his father, who was killed in the last stages of the war and, as he writes, “it was the death of my father that motivated my European life”. The greatest political influence in his formative years was Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of the new Federal Republic of Germany and one of the “founding fathers” of what is now the European Union: “this new concept for the future of Europe captivated me from early in my life”.

A widely popular and determined leader in the European Parliament, the author is a staunch defender of the institutions created to give the “Community method” expression – for, as he writes, quoting Jean Monnet, “nothing is possible without men, but nothing is lasting without institutions”.

At this point of danger of European fragmentation, United for the Better is a timely reminder of all that has been achieved and the perils of forgetting our common history.

The book’s title comes from the words of the EU’s Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007: “We, the citizens of the European Union, have united for the better”.

Table of Contents

545 pages including 32 pages of colour plates.

Introduction

Part I: My impressionable years

  1. Lessons of youth
  2. Personal and political values and benchmarks

Part II: Putting Parliament to the test: rising to the challenges of German unity and European unification

  1. Down to business in the European Parliament in 1979
  2. New duties after the 1984 European election
  3. Achieving German unity and overcoming the schism of Europe
  4. The Maastricht Treaty
  5. The 1994 European elections: an ambitious goal
  6. On the way to the Amsterdam Treaty
  7. The enlargement of the European Union

Part III: Leading the EPP Group and mapping out its European policy

  1. The EPP on the way to becoming the strongest group in the European Parliament
  2. The causa Austria
  3. Services Directive and the consequences of different mentalities
  4. The Treaty of Nice and the Constitutional Treaty
  5. Explosive events and pleasing aspects of life in Parliament
  6. Trials of strength

Part IV: President of the European Parliament, caught up in the quest for a European Constitution

  1. Leadership and daily duties of the president of the European Parliament
  2. “United for the better”: the Berlin Declaration
  3. The struggle to ratify the Lisbon Treaty
  4. Internal affairs of the European Parliament

Part V: Standing up for human dignity

  1. Justice and solidarity: the mission of uniting Europe
  2. The economic and financial crisis and solidarity in Europe
  3. Europe as a partner for peace in the world
  4. Intercultural dialogue: partnership and tolerance
  5. Human rights are indivisible
  6. Identity and historical awareness
  7. Meetings in the Vatican
  8. Visitors and visits

Part VI: Everything has its time

  1. A thanksgiving service in Osnabrück on the theme of German- Polish friendship

Endnotes

Index of persons

Author

Hans-Gert Pöttering, now the chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), was a German Christian Democrat member of the European Parliament from 1979-2014, leading the centre-right EPP-ED group from 1999-2007 and serving as Parliament’s president in 2007-2009.