All across Europe citizens are debating their living and working conditions against the background of local politics but also EU policy. At first glance, many are not able to discern the advantages a deepening of the EU may entail, a situation exacerbated by the financial and economic crises, youth unemployment, a loss of trust in EU policy, increasing scepticism regarding Europe, and numerous unanswered questions about the integration of new member countries.
How do policies that are made in Brussels affect us as individuals? How can we influence the design of EU policies? How can we make Europe a tangible experience for all its citizens? These and many more questions will be addressed at conferences, panel discussions, in publications and workshops in order to reveal Europe’s diversity, its regions, its issues and problems, and the commitment of the people living here. At the same time, we are aiming to shed light on the EU’s committees and bodies and how they operate. Through their activities, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and its project partners want to promote public discourse in Europe by offering a forum for differing points of view while also identifying what we have in common. The overall goal is to encourage people to get actively involved and to think of themselves as citizens of the European Union.
An Atlas of Europe
Berlin, Germany, January 2014
Europe is more than just the debt crisis, bureaucracy, and national small-mindedness. This is demonstrated by the Atlas of Europe published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in collaboration with the German and the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Le Monde Diplomatique. In this atlas, engaging charts and diagrams help visualise figures and facts about Europe, as well as background information and interrelationships in areas ranging from the origins of European unification and the EU’s system, to the euro crisis, right-wing populism, energy policy, and European foreign and security policy.
- Atlas of Europe (German)
Europe Before the Elections I: Challenges 2014
Brussels, Belgium; February 2014
Since January 1st, 2014, Latvia is the 18th member of the Eurozone, while for Rumania and Bulgaria now the full freedom of movement for workers applies. None of these events have created much enthusiasm because, although the crisis in the Eurozone has become less pronounced, it still hasn’t been resolved. Many citizens are afraid of labour migration from South-eastern Europe. Has Europe reached a crossroads just before the EU elections? How likely is a success of anti-European parties? And how much of a danger do these parties present for parliamentary procedures in the future European Parliament?
Europe Before the Elections II: Populism
Brussels, Belgium; March 2014
Populist forces on the right and the left are on the rise in almost all Member States of the European Union. It is feared that populist parties could make significant gains at the 2014 EU elections, with some polls suggesting they could win up to 25 percent or even 30 percent of seats in the next European Parliament. According to a Gallup Poll in the autumn of 2013 only 30 percent of EU citizens have a positive view of the EU compared to 70 percent 20 years ago. This is a historical low. The ungoing economic and financial crisis and the measures taken have contributed a great deal to the loss of confidence in the European project. But what are the other root causes for the rise of populists throughout the EU? Where did the mainstream and pro-European parties go wrong? Did they do enough to explain the European project to citizens and did they do enough to defend and improve the European project? What role have the media played in this development? Where do we go from here? Can we still mend the anti-European sentiments before the elections and how?
The panelists will try to find answers for these questions.
taz.lab 2014: "I Love EU – Solidarity Can Become a Reality"
Berlin, Germany, April 2014
The 2014 taz.lab’s goal was to let EU politics, the albatross around the neck of Europe, soar again and thus inspire European debate. The event’s premise was that solidarity can become a reality, and that every emergency points to an alternative. Solidarity is essential, especially against the background of the financial crisis that has hit Southern Europe over the last five years, as is support for Eastern European democracy movements. The Heinrich Böll Foundation organised a number of events during the taz-lab, discussing the future of the EU, the outlook for young people in Europe, and Europe’s energy transition.
A Comprehensive Victory? The EU and its Sceptics After the Election
Series of events
Berlin, Germany; May 2014
The financial crisis has very much changed the European Union and, in its wake, 500 million EU citizens had to elect a new European Parliament. A wide range of euro-sceptics, detractors of the EU, and anti-European populists tried to turn the election into a plebiscite on European integration. Their populist, aggressive onslaught against central tenets of EU policy takes up many valid fears and concerns of EU citizens. Whence the support for euro-sceptic movements? The speakers will discuss a number of anti-EU parties in Western and Eastern member states.
The EU and Euro-Sceptics After the Elections
Berlin, Germany; May 2014
The financial crisis has changed the European Union fundamentally. 500 milion Europeans have elected a new European Parliament. A broad spectrum of Eurosceptics, EU-critics and Anti-EU-populists aimed to transform the elections into a vote for/against the European integration. How did the Euro-secptic forces gain people's attention? The panelists discussed the challenges and programmes of the various EU-critic parties in the Western and Eastern countries of the EU.
A Good Team? France's Downer and the German-French Relation
November 2014; Berlin, Germany
The French and German experts discussed the facets of the social, economic and political developments in France whilst analyzing the French and German perspektive on the debt crisis in the EU. Knowing that there must be an action plan from France, Germany and Europe, to form an ecological and socially sustainable crisis managment as well as common European strategies against nationalistic and Euro-sceptic tendencies.
The UK and the EU: The End of a Comfortable Marriage?
Oktober 2014; Berlin, Germany
With the electioon of the European Parliament the alianation between continental Europe and Great Britain seems to reach another peak. Especially the debate over the nomination of Jean-Claude Junckers as EU Commissioner heatened up the discussion afer Camerons Europe speech some weeks before: The British Premier demanded wide reforms that should cut the power of the EU and announced a referendum over the stay of the UK in the EU. Where do these fundamental differences betwen the UK and the EU come from? What are the main coalitions of interests here? What consequences would it have for the EU if Great Britain wold leave the Union? These questions were discussed by Eric Bonse, Almut Möller, Tim Oliver and Manuel Sarrazin; the debate was presented by Christine Pütz.
Euro-Sceptics in the European Parliament. Polish, Czech, and German Perspectives
Warsaw, Poland; June 2014
In May 2014, Europe witnessed an unprecedented success of euro-sceptics. This open workshop offered the opportunity to debate the root causes of euro-scepticism in Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Together with MEP Danuta Hübner we asked what role the euro-sceptics may play in the European Parliament over the next five years. Will they be able to affect the further development of European integration and EU policy?
What Was Really Different this Time? The European Elections 2014 – Retrospection and Perspective
Brussels, Belgium; June 2014
Between the 22 and 25 May over 400 million European citizens were asked to cast their ballots for a new European Parliament. The election’s slogan was, “This time it’s different.” – But was it really? What’s the outlook for the European project? And what is the meaning, what are the consequences of the low voter turnout? At this event politicians, journalists, and civil society activists did take stock of the status quo.
- Report (English)
Summer Academy 2014
Salzburg, Austria; August 2014
Why is knowledge so difficult to apply? The 2014 Green Summer Academy addressed the limits of traditional concepts of learning and education. Educational activities and public awareness have only a limited impact when it comes to creating a new way of life, a new way of production. Transport policy still prioritises car traffic, world trade leads to environmental and social dumping, and education does little to promote a careful use of resources.
The 2014 Summer Academy in Goldegg, Salzburg, presented a good opportunity to try out new approaches in a beautiful environment.
- Website (German)
Tranzyt. Big Book Festival
Warsaw, Poland, June 2014
Around 10,000 literary enthusiasts – 150 international visitors – 50 events. For one weekend, Warsaw became an unusual stage for literature, when numerous debates, literary walks, and public readings took place at often unexpected locations such as railway stations or department stores. The intended audience were all those who love to read, no matter what kind of books they prefer.
Jacek Kuroń Festival
Warsaw, Poland, June 2014
Jacek Kuroń was one of the masterminds of Poland’s democratic opposition under communism and one of the founders of Solidarność. His political activism as well as his works were behind many of the debates at the festival, where representatives of today’s Poland – politicians, journalists, and civil society activists – discussed the political, cultural, and economic situation, as well as the challenges ahead.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Constitutional Reform and EU Integration
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), July 2014
The Initiative for Monitoring the EU Integration Process, an alliance of civil society actors from BiH, presented its so-called Shadow Report, a record of progress made towards EU accession, especially regarding the human rights situation, governance, the judiciary, the fight against corruption, and transitional justice.
Getting More Done with Less Energy. Training for Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency
Paterna de Rivera, Cádiz, Andalusia, June to August 2014
The project was initiated to show how countries in the European south of the EU could benefit from energy-efficient measures. Since the economic crisis many young Europeans are facing unemployment. Teaching them to operate with energy-efficient system proved to be a job-generating measure. The project was percieved positively and can be rated as a innovative energy initiative against youth unemployment.
Presentació del llibre "Crecimiento inteligente – La Revolución Verde"
Barcelona, Spain; March 2014
In his book ‘Intelligent Growth. The Green Revolution’ Ralf Fücks, co-president of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, outlines a Green industrial revolution – one that leaves the depletion of the environment behind in favour of growth in harmony with nature. We have to get started on the way towards environmental modernity, keeping the idea of progress alive, yet recasting it in new terms.
Future of Europe
Web Article Series
Brussels, Belgium, 2014
In the series of web articles experts discuss current issues of the European Union. The topics where picked based on present developments and incidents during the European elections.
- "The Swiss Referendum: Stoking Fires Home and Away" von Alex Lazarowicz
- "Explaining the Rise of the UK Independence Party" von Matthew Goodwin
- "It's Shared Leadership and Coopetition, Stupid – Steering the EU through Troubled Waters" von Anne Lauenroth
Why We Need a European Policy of Change and What It Should Look Like
Brussels, Belgium; October 2014
The new European Parliament has been elected and has taken up its work; the (structure of the) new Commission college has been proposed and is waiting for the Parliament’s approval. Hailed by some as the most significant shake - up of the European Commission's organisational structure in years, the Parliament was less amused and MEPs threatened “to get tough” on some of the candidates. Notwithstanding the outcome of this confrontation, a “shake - up” of European politics and some “toughness” do not seem out of place in Europe’s current political and economic situation. The recent European elections have clearly demonstrated that (too) many people have lost faith in Europe and its politicians. They do no longer trust their ability to make things better. But, is Europe’s decline really irreversible? In order to decide how to get things right in Europe, we have to think about what exactly went wrong and set our priorities. In his recent book “European Spring – Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess and How to Put Them Right” Philippe Legrain, former independent economic advisor to Commission President Barroso, spells out his ideas about a fair and decisive solution to the banking and debt crisis; the necessity to dispel “bad ideas” and hurtful myths; fundamental economic and political reforms and changes to institutions to make them work better, and a more accountable and democratic EU with genuine political choice. He came to Brussels to be questioned by journalist Annette Riedel and a curious audience.
Second Year in the EU – From Post-Accession Fatigue to New Opportunities
Sessions and evening debate
December 2014; Zagreb, Croatia
Since becoming a member of the EU on July 1st, 2013, Croatia has been facing a series of challenges. The economy continues to decline, poverty is increasing and social discontent has been spreading across the country. Combined with a renaissance of nationalism and neoconservative populism, the country has been locked in an unsustainable state. Such a stalemate indicates that society has been trapped in a sort of post-accession fatigue where democratic development is hindered, where social rights are dramatically eroding and where economic policy is reduced to direct foreign strategic investments in order to compensate budgetary deficit. Given these conditions and current momentum, we want to open discussion which will provide assessment of Croatian membership in the EU from different societal perspectives and which will analyse the impacts which accession had on variety of sectors and society as a whole.
Furthermore, we want to move step further with our analysis and recognise opportunities in the following mandate of the European Commission. Cooperation between political parliamentary and civil society sphere seems to be not only challenging but of particular importance for further developments that can safeguard positive achievements which have been reached in pre-accession period. In our debate we will address TTIP as one of the relevant issues that has both European and local importance and can play cohesive in creating broader sociall alliances where green constituencies and values are neccessary ingredient.
A Common Future in the Eurozone?
The web dossier sums up thoughts and analyzes of thr last-years Capacity Building (programme, presentations of the participants, conclusions, photo gallery). 2013 15 young people were invited from the southern member states of the eurozone and from Germany to Brussels in order to discuss the future of their own countries with their peers and EU stakeholders.