BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Germans Tuesday to sweep away decades of reticence and face up to ‘‘some hard truths’’ in accepting policy changes from immigration to education needed to keep Europe’s biggest economy competitive.
Germany will fall behind in global economic competition if it fails to address its shrinking population, Merkel told a government-backed conference on the country’s demographic challenges, promoting a signature project she says she will pursue if she wins a third term in federal elections on Sept. 22.
‘‘It’s high time to start’’ tackling the generational challenges, Merkel told an audience in Berlin including at least four
Cabinet ministers. Projections that Germany will have 6 million fewer working-age people by 2025 mean that ‘‘we can surely do more to be open to immigration,’’ she said.
Merkel has been addressing longer-term challenges facing Europe as it strives to compete globally with emerging powers such as Brazil, Indonesia, and China.