US President Barack Obama has warned Europe unity it is a “blessing you cannot take for granted” during a speech at the G5 in Hannover. In an impassioned plea for European unity amid rising scepticism about the EU, Mr Obama urged the continent to realise how much it has already achieved. He said: “This is a defining moment and what happens on this continent has consequences for people around the globe.” He was speaking amid a background of Britain’s referendum on leaving the EU, the growing schisms within the bloc over how to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis, and further evidence from Austria of the rise of the far right.
If a unified, peaceful, liberal, pluralistic, free-market Europe begins to doubt itself, begins to question the progress that’s been made over the last several decades, then we can’t expect the progress that is just now taking hold in many places around the world will continue.
During the speech, given in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Obama said anything less than total solidarity would give rise to intolerance and tribalism. The US president is due to hold talks with Ms Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron, Francois Hollande of France and Italian PM Matteo Renzi, as part of a G5 meeting. Mr Obama acknowledged that anxieties over globalisation, terrorism and immigration were “real and legitimate”. He added: "I’ve come here today to the heart of Europe to say that the United States and the entire world needs a strong and prosperous and united Europe.“