Passau sends positive message: Current crisis offers new opportunities for Europe

Passau, 25 September 2015.
New approaches for the future of Europe were presented at the “Think Thank Europe” Congress in the European City of Passau, which is currently also a place of arrival for thousands of refugees. On this occasion, numerous important thinkers and decision-makers from politics, economics, religion and culture met in the city of the three rivers.
Just recently, the German Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke of a link between the refugee crisis and the future sustainability of Europe. Merkel said the refugee crisis was “not only a challenge for Germany, but also for Europe.” A solution to the crisis requires new way of thinking.

Given the current challenge, it is more important than ever for leading players from politics, the economy and culture to exchange views, outside of usual political summit meetings, on how the current situation can be used to find new opportunities for Europe. The Congress New Horizons 2015 “Think Tank Europe” provided the perfect platform for doing this. Discussing new chances for Europe and finding quick solutions have also been called for by the Congress patrons Sigmar Gabriel, Manfred Weber and Lord George Weidenfeld.

Patron Sigmar Gabriel: New trust in Europe

Sigmar Gabriel, Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, said: “As a patron of New Horizons in Passau, I advocate rethinking in Europe.” Even though he was unable to attend the congress due to the current situation, he added: “General approval for the European project is shrinking. The Think Tank Europe in Passau generates new trust in Europe and provides room for a new way of thinking and the implementation of future-oriented ideas”.
Even before the congress, Lord George Weidenfeld, one of the leading intellectuals in Europe, emphasised: “Rarely in the course of history, have we experienced as many problems and critical, endangering circumstances as today. In absence of a real and strong leading power in the free world, Europe finds itself in an alarming and increasingly closely intertwined situation.” In conclusion, he added: “Therefore, the initiative New Horizons 2015 Think Tank Europe is of particular importance.”

Airbus-CEO Enders: Greece is not nearly as important for Europe as Great Britain is

As a representative of one of the most important European commercial enterprises, Dr. Thomas Enders, CEO of the Airbus Group, reaffirmed: “We must not think German or European, because the market is global. The economic crisis in Asia affects us as well und requires us more than ever to cope with the Euro Crisis.”

At the congress he emphasised that the referendum in Great Britain is of far greater significance to Europe than the Greek crisis: “With all due respect to Greece, it does not have a fraction of the economic importance for Europe than Great Britain does.” He referred in particular, to the upcoming British referendum on Britain’s decision on whether to remain in the EU or not. Besides the economic significance of Britain, he is also concerned about the foreign and security policy importance of Great Britain for Europe.

Further renowned participants such as the Secretary General of the CSU, Andreas Scheuer, the CEO of ICUnet.AG and initiator of New Horizons, Dr. Fritz Audebert, or the chairman of the Protestant Church, Prof. Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, also emphasised the great responsibility that Europe has to find a quick solution to the crisis.

Tibor Navracsics, current European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport and former Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, also determined how important solidary is in Europe right now. “The diversity of Europe could be the key to solving the problems it faces.”

Leading European politicians also came to Passau to take part in the congress and welcomed the initiative. Manfred Weber, Chairman of the European People’s Party, the biggest fraction in the European Parliament, highlighted the importance of the event: “The aim of Think Tank Europe in Passau, in the best sense, is innovation. At the congress we thought beyond tomorrow.” He also considered Passau to be the ideal setting for this: “The three-river-city of Passau symbolises the 3-State-Zone – here, near the former Iron Curtain, Europe practically grows together and this can also be seen in daily life. Especially with regard to the current influx of refugees, Passau, as a border city, is affected directly and therefore symbolises the whole, very topical issue of Europe.” He added: “I am delighted that the congress placed the focus on the future of Europe. This is why I was keen on becoming a patron – and because here it can be demonstrated how the current crisis can offer new opportunities for Europe.”
See more photos of the congress New Horizons 2015: Think Tank Europe at