What we are up toLiving the Change: in Europe and in our Organisation
Executive Director Dominic Schwickert reflects on the months leading up to the European elections and on reorganising the team. An editorial for the upcoming newsletter 1/2019.
Europe: Standstill benefits only its enemies
“Europe could face the same fate as Weimar – if there are too few Europeans who want to bring the EU forward,” warned Heribert Prantl, journalist at the Süddeutsche Zeitung, at the beginning of this year on the occasion of the centenary of the Weimar Republic. He is right: it is simply not enough to praise Europe’s great achievements of the past while maintaining the status quo.
We also have to argue more boldly about the further development of the European idea and its structures, institutions, processes and arenas of dialogue. If we fail to do so, we leave the discourse of change up to the extreme right. The best response to radical forces is to find ways that Europe can become more democratic, social and progressive. With concrete proposals, we can continue the debate – passionately, but also guided by strong arguments.
This “strong arguments” approach defines our actions as a Europe-oriented think tank in the days and weeks leading up to the European elections, including through:
- an examination of the perception of Europe outside the big cities in our project “Europe listens” (DE);
- a competition of ideas for Europe between candidates for the European Parliament at the interactive #EUsparring event (DE);
- bringing together progressive allies and partner organisations from all over Europe (and North America) to discuss at an international conference about the big socio-political questions of our times like in the “Progressive Governance” series, which took place for the second time in Berlin at the end of April;
- supporting initiatives and events promoting Europe like the #MEGA conference “Not Without Us! – Civil Society Conference on the Future of Europe” by the European Civic Forum and the National Network for Civil Society including the common position paper “Berlin agenda of the European civil society”, “Alliance 4 Europe”, “A Soul for Europe”, “Prime time for Europe”, as well as the co-production of a video that humorously encourages viewers to vote; or
- publications like Maria Skóra’s “EU Dispute with Hungary: What’s Next?”; Sophie Pornschlegel’s seven proposals for a better EU; or policy fellow Johannes Hillje’s vision of a digital, publicly financed and social network oriented towards the common good, (extract from his new book “Plattform Europa” in DE).
Equally relevant is the new study about the self-conception of Germans in the European Union, produced by Johannes Hillje in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Das Progressive Zentrum. The results of the study (DE), which was carried out roughly four months ahead of the European elections on the basis of qualitative group discussions and quantitative surveys, shows clearly that the popular myth about Germany as the EU’s paymaster is contradictory to the actual attitudes of the German population. The majority of Germans want a more active policy towards Europe and are willing to invest more in the future of Europe (and therefore the future of Germany). Johannes Hillje recommends parties and politicians to promote the already existing concept of Germany as a “master of the future” (“Zukunftsmeister”) for Europe instead of consolidating the paymaster myth. The study puts forward numbers and a general outline for a new German self-conception. It aims at initiating a debate about the changing role and attitude of Germany in and towards Europe. You can find the link to the study and the first media reactions here.
Finally, we extend a warm invitation to the big “European Elections Night” hosted by the Hertie School of Governance and the Jacques Delors Institute Berlin on 26 May at 7 pm, with Das Progressive Zentrum as a partner. Guests are invited to enjoy drinks, snacks, music and a mix of public viewing, analyses and debates as well as live broadcasting from other EU countries. Sign up for the event here.
Internal tasks for the organisation: Sharpening the profile and reorganising the team
Under the direction of the Chairman of the Scientific Council, Wolfgang Schroeder, and after an intensive discussion and review process, we have defined essential programmatic guidelines for our work in the coming months in a paper. This position paper titled “Shaping Progress” focuses, on the one hand, on the question of how social cohesion and the interplay between social, economic and ecological progress can be achieved in politically turbulent times. On the other hand, it asks, with which new impulses for our liberal and social democracy can we, as a think tank and generator of ideas, contribute effectively in our three programme areas “Structural Change,” “Future of Democracy” and “International Relations”.
It is in the DNA of compact, dynamically evolving organisations that they are constantly changing – including in terms of staff. In order to support our team in Berlin, we are currently looking to fill three exciting positions, to which I would like to draw your attention (please spread the word!):
- Head of Office (full-time)
- (Senior) Project Manager (full-time) in our programme area “Future of Democracy”
- Project Assistant (full-time or part-time) in the programme areas “Future of Democracy” and “International Relations”
Our future colleagues will join a young, highly motivated team in an inspiring and transformatory environment – with a lot of self-efficacy. You can find the job postings here. Please note that a good command in German is required.
Another especially exciting staff matter: My predecessor as Executive Director and chairwoman Katarina Niewiedzial has been named Berlin’s Commissioner for Integration (official title: “Beauftragte des Berliner Senats für Integration und Migration”) as of 1 May 2019. The start of this position has been accompanied by positive press reports in the German and Polish media (see for example Inforadio or Berliner Zeitung). Not by chance: How one of the most attractive cities in Europe deals with immigration and the related question of belonging and cultural inclusion has an impact on the whole country – and beyond.
I wish all of us a successful month and good results for progressive forces in the European elections.
With European greetings,
This article is the editorial of the newsletter 1/2019.