New Year’s address by the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, on 31 December 2019

My fellow citizens,

This evening we will be greeting not just a new year, but also a new decade. I believe we have good reasons to feel confident that the 2020s, the decade that will begin in a few hours, can be good years – if we draw on our strengths, if we focus on the things that unite us, and if we remember how much we have achieved in recent decades.

In the coming year we will mark thirty years that Germany has been reunited in peace and freedom. We have achieved great things in these thirty years. Today, for example, more people have jobs than ever before. But much more still remains to be done in the coming decade than we would have imagined thirty years ago. 

At the same time, in our day-to-day lives we are witnessing how much digital progress is changing every area of life, which of course includes our working life. We need to find new responses to this: we want everyone to have access to the education that they need for this transformation. We want them to have a good and secure job in the future – and a reliable pension in old age. 

That is why we need, now more than ever, the courage to think in new ways, the strength to leave well-trodden paths, the readiness to venture into new territory, and the resolve to act more quickly, guided by the conviction that unfamiliar approaches can succeed – and, indeed, must do so if a good life on this planet is to be possible for today’s young people and those who come after them. 

The warming of our planet is real. It is dangerous. Global warming and the crises that arise from it are caused by human activity. This means that we must do everything humanly possible to meet this human challenge. It isn’t too late. 

This conviction is also reflected in the Climate Action Programme that the Federal and Länder Governments concluded just a few days ago.  I know very well that some people fear that the measures contained in it are more than they can handle, while others find them to be far too little.

And it is true that I, as a 65-year-old, will not personally experience all of the consequences that climate change will bring if politicians do not act.

Our children and grandchildren are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of what we do or fail to do today. That is why I am making every effort to ensure that Germany does its part – environmentally, economically and socially – to deal with climate change. The newly passed law provides a vital – in every sense of the word – framework for this. 

As we tackle this challenge, we can build on the things that have always made us strong: our ideas; our ingenuity; our hard work and tenacity; our tradespeople, engineers and experts; our governmental and volunteer structures; our ways of living together in families and associations; and our respect and appreciation for those who, for example, work for and with other people in the caring professions.  

And in doing so, we are sustained by the values enshrined in the Basic Law – freedom, solidarity and respect for the dignity of every human being – as well as the principles of the social market economy. They will remain our compass in the new decade. 

This means that in the digital era, too, technology has to serve people – and not the other way around. Human dignity sets the limits, for it is inviolable.

This is the essence of our liberal democracy, which needs new life breathed into it every day. I would like to thank the women and men who take on political responsibility in our country, especially those at the local level. Protecting them – like all people in our country – from hatred, hostility and violence, from racism and anti-Semitism, is the duty of the state, and it is a duty to which the Federal Government has a particular commitment. 

I wish to thank the many people who dedicate themselves to our community, both professionally and as volunteers: police officers, firefighters, and all those who care for their fellow human beings in difficult situations. Together you form the backbone of our democracy. 

My fellow citizens,

In recent years I have often said that Germany will only thrive in the long term if Europe thrives too. For it is only in the community of the European Union that we can assert our values and interests and secure peace, freedom and prosperity. 

Europe needs to have a stronger voice in the world. We will also work towards this during the German Presidency of the European Council in the coming year, for example through a summit of all Member States with China and a meeting with the countries of Africa. 

Cooperation with Africa lies in our own interests, too. For only when people have the chance to live in peace and safety will flight and migration be rduced. Only when we end wars through political solutions will long-term security ensue. 

Our security and our prosperity depend in large part upon the security and economic progress of our neighbours. That is why this evening I wish to thank our soldiers as well as the police officers and civilian aid workers who are serving far from home.

My fellow citizens,

We stand at the threshold of a new decade. The twenties can be good years. Let’s surprise ourselves again with what we can do. Changes for the better are possible if we embrace the new with openness and resolve. 

On this note, I wish you and your families a healthy, happy and blessed New Year in 2020. 

Note: The New Year’s address is available at New Year´s Eve from 7 p.m. at