This has been my presentation of what I call “Agenda 2010.” I have described what we have to do to overcome our difficulties – step by step, no question, but we must tackle them – and develop Germany’s strengths anew. Our country has great potential, there can be no doubt about that – potential that we can and must awaken through joint efforts.
We are placing demands on society but we are doing it so people can be given new opportunities to develop their skills and deliver high performance.
We want to create these opportunities for ourselves. First of all, this means opportunities for education and investment in research and development.
Other countries have shown us that far-reaching structural reforms have to go hand in hand with greater investments in education and research in order to achieve lasting success. But the following must also be changed: in no comparable industrial country does social background have such a decisive influence on educational opportunities as it does in Germany. That cannot continue.
[ . . . ]
Our country must become a center of confidence in Europe once more – both for our own sake and also for the sake of Europe.
I imagine that there are a lot of know-it-alls in associations and elsewhere who are already putting forth new demands, even before the present demands have been thoroughly implemented. I want to say to all of them: not all of today’s problems started yesterday. Not all of the solutions we are discussing today can have an impact tomorrow. But I am determined not to continue allowing prolonged procrastination over problems just because they seem all but insurmountable.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will not accept solutions failing because of special interest groups, because the strength to find common ground is lacking.
We Germans can be proud of the strength of our economy, of the achievements of our people, of the strength of our nation, and of the social traditions of our country.
We have everything we need to create a good future for our children. If everyone does his or her part and stands together, we will achieve this goal.
Source of original German speech: Gerhard Schröder, “Agenda 2010—Regierungserklärung vor dem Deutschen Bundestag” (March 14, 2003); http://archiv.bundesregierung.de/bpaexport/regierungserklaerung/79/472179/multi.htm (retrieved on February 25, 2008).
This English translation was based on a translation published by the German Federal Press Office, “Policy Statement by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the German Bundestag ‘Courage for peace and courage for change.’ Berlin, Friday, March 14, 2003.”