Shaping Europe's future

The Treaties of Rome Sixty Years on: Moving Forward with Europe!

Conference, expert talks, networking
March 21, 2017 – Berlin, Germany

Sixty years after the signing of the Treaties of Rome, Europe finds itself at a crossroads. Right-wing nationalist member states, foreign policy crises and a surge in left- and right-wing populist movements are endangering liberal democracy. Understanding what this wake-up call means for a liberal Europe and what consequences arise from this was the subject of discussion at an international conference titled “Moving Forward with Europe!” that was held by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin on 20 March 2017.

The consensus at the end of the conference was unanimous: Moving Forward with Europe! Europe is a liberal democracy success story and must sustain. Europe can make good on its promises. This is evident from over 60 years of peace and freedom in Europe. Not treating these achievements as a matter of course but fighting and standing up for them is now the order of the day.

Across Europe and the US, a deep-rooted, anti-liberal revolt is taking place. And yet, the latest elections in the Netherlands and Austria as well as the latest polls on the French presidential elections show that this anti-liberal and populist movement may well have already reached its pinnacle. The EU’s approval ratings are once again on the rise and a new grassroots movement in favour of a democratic Europe is spreading, observed Ralf Fücks, President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, at the outset of the conference.

Participants of the conference: Cinzia Alcidi, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels; Krzysztof Blusz, WiseEuropa, Warsaw; Reinhard Bütikofer, GEP, Brussels; Nikos Chrysogelos, Wind of Renewal, Athens; Francisco de Borja Lasheras, ECFR Madrid, European Council on Foreign Relations, Madrid; Stefan Lehne, Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Europe, Brussels; Arnaud Lechevalier, University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and Marc Bloch Center, Paris; Ondřej Liška, Ashoka Austria Vienna; Nick Mabey, Third Generation Environmentalism, London; Jana Puglierin, Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Future Studies, German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin; Jan Schneider, Council of Experts German Foundations for Integration and Migration, Berlin; Annamaria Simonazzi, Sapienza University, Rome; Ulrich Speck, Elcano Royal Institute, Brussels; Zuzana Števulová, Human Rights League, Bratislava.


The Power of Words

Green Summer Academy 2017
Tainach/Tinje (Kärnten), Austria

Speech determins our life and actions. It transports opinions and is a powerful tool. Which media we use to gather informations is becoming more and more diverse. Fake news and alternative facts are heating up the debate. What is true and what is false? What can we achieve with our words? The Green Summer Academy 2017 will focus on the relations between power and speech and the power of speech.

Hundred years ago it was words, that were accompanying a patriotic pathos all across Europe – leading people into demise. And today? Patriotism is en vogue again: simple answers to complex questions. The power of speech is mostly simple, short and apparently offering logical solutions. he Green Summer Academy 2017 will explore how words are used in order to achieve certain results. We will not find answers to all questions but we are sure, that the discourse will take us forward.

The event location is situated in Tainach/Tinje, South of Kärnten/Koroška – which is a bilingual region. Also the speakers will be talking in different languages.

Reconnecting Europe I What are the Main Challenges Facing the European Union in 2017?

Lunch Debate on Februar 8, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium

2016 was the year the fissures in the structure of the EU became visible even for those who had preferred to ignore them. The UK has decided to leave Europe and in many other countries the Eurosceptic and populist voices are getting stronger. In 2017 people in the Netherlands, in France and in Germany will have to decide about their countries’ (and Europe’s) future. What will their verdict be? Also, will Europe succeed in pulling itself together or will it give in to pressures, interferences and provocations from its powerful neighbours in a situation where not much support, moral or otherwise, can be expected from the other side of the Atlantic?

With an unsolved refugee crisis on our hands, a simmering eurozone crisis and the threat of further terror attacks hanging over the continent, the prospects for 2017 are bleak. We can no longer downplay the seriousness of the situation, neither is it helpful to look for a scapegoat. It doesn’t matter who or what got us into this mess, what is important is to get out of it together fast. Of all the serious problems the EU has to face up to at the beginning 2017 what are the three most serious challenges? This is the question we asked the three speakers invited to this 2017 kick-off event of the series ‘Reconnecting Europe’.

Sven Biscop: ‘In 2017, the EU, and the governments of its Member States, will have to reconnect with citizens by reconnecting with the heart of Europe, i.e. the welfare state; the EU will have to decide whether it can be the security guarantor of its friends in its own neighbourhood; and the EU will have to position itself in the evolving balance of power between the US, China, Russia – and ourselves.’

Reinhard Bütikofer: ‘The main challenges for 2017 are: to implement a paradigm shift from austerity to innovation oriented investment; to strengthen the voice of parliaments and the voice of the people and to fight corporate privileges. Last but not least it is crucial to find a strategy to form a strong reformist alliance against the wave of authoritarianism.’

Kirsty Hughes: 1) Solidarity and strategy within the EU: The EU is struggling to find a coherent, strategic sense of direction at a time of multiple challenges. With a lack of solidarity across Member States on different issues from refugees to democracy to youth unemployment. 2) Challenges across the EU’s neighbourhood: The EU has lost its confidence in its ability to positively influence its neighbourhood, from the Balkans, to dealing with Putin’s Russia (ever more difficult with the Trump presidency) to Turkey and the Middle East. 3) Brexit: The EU has to manage both the Brexit negotiations and the fall-out from Brexit, protecting the EU27’s interests while avoiding an acrimonious stand-off with the UK.’


Friends or Foes
Web dossier
all year-long – Brussels, Belgium

In spite of its internal crisis, the European Union will have to (re)define its relations with its powerful neighbours Turkey and Russia and come to terms with the new political situation across the Atlantic. Whereas (still) EU accession candidate Turkey keeps slipping away into illiberalism and lawlessness, Russia doesn’t back down on its (often aggressive) ambitions in the eastern neighbourhood and both countries keep meddling in the EU’s internal affairs (pressure on Turkish EU citizens in the EU on the one hand; financing of populist parties and cyber attacks on the other), the EU depends on Turkey in the ‘refugee deal’ and looks helpless in the face of Russian hostilities.

In the meantime, transatlantic relations have come under strain in view of a US President whose next step in foreign policy is more unpredictable than the drop of a lottery ball. The European Union is challenged to play a more affirmative role in the neighbourhood and on the global stage, but can an EU which is struggling with internal tensions and a general crisis of confidence really do this? What will the future EU relations with Russia, Turkey and the US look like? For this dossier the European Office of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung asked European, Russian, Turkish and American authors to assess the situation from their point of view.



Reconnecting Europe

all year-long – Brussels, Belgium

The European Union is drifting apart. What can we do to reconnect citizens and EU Institutions, north and south, centre and periphery?

Four bloggers from Bulgaria, Germany, Spain and the UK share their ideas. Some of the recent contributions are:

    •    Stuck in the Brexit Mud? The EU after the UK Election
    •    Politics after the French Elections: the Beginning of a New Age


Rethinking Europe

Debates about current European policy topics
all year-long – Berlin, Germany

Targeting or joining in? Right-wing populism and LGBTI in the European Union, April 21, 2017 in Berlin

The elections in Germany, France and the Netherlands are coined by the concern that the AfD, Le Pen and Wilders could hunt down the established parties with their frightening slogans about 'foreign infiltration' and threats of terrorism. The liberal democracy in Europe is in danger, especially the rights of sexual and other minorities. At the same time right-wing populism appears now in a 'modern' guise and shows itself with homosexual party members. Experts from all over Europe analysed the recent developments in Germany, France and the Netherlands and discussed strategies that could enforce progressive topics in the French and German election campaigns.

With: Volker Beck (Member of the German Federal government, Green Party), Jayrôme C. Robinet (Author and Empowerment Trainer), Marcel de Groot (Manager of the Gay Consultation Berlin), David Cupina (Council of Europe, Board of the Association 'Les Oublié-e-s' and FestiGays) and Nathalie Schlenzka (Anti-Discrimination Office of the Federal Government) with a keynote speech. Presentation: Erik Haase, Bleublancrose e.V. The event was organized within a cooperation of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Bleublancrose e.V.

France Before the Elections
Panel discussion – April 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany

Trends, results and decisions. The German-French politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit in a conversation with French journalistis that live in Berlin about the second stage of the presidential elections.

The French presidential election 2017 represents more than just the election of a new political leader for the country. It will also impact the decision for or against a Europe with democratic decision-making processes and cooperation across borders, free press and social justice. The panelists: Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Pascale Hugues, Hélène, Kohl and Elise Graton. Moderation: Andreas Fanizadeh/Tania Martini (taz-Cultural News Department). The event is a coproduction with the taz.die tageszeitung and Schaubühne Berlin.

After the French Elections: What's next for France, Germany and Europe?
Panel discussion on May 8, 2017 in Berlin, Germany

On the 7th of May the French citizens will decide not only about the future of France, but also of the European Union. For the first time Emmanuel Macron succeeded with its newly formed movement „En Marche“ to get his way through the first round of the elections against well established candidates. With Marine Le Pen being the candidate in the second ballot for the rightwing-party Front Nationale, there are two completely opposite world views on the agenda: a liberal-minded and modern France against a nationalist and backward-looking France that shuts itself down.

Only one day after the second round of the elections experts discussed the outcome and the results of the fateful decision for France and the future of the entire European Union.

Participants were: Jens Althoff, Office Manager Heinrich Böll Foundation in Paris; Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Candidate of the Greens and Chairwoman of the Greens Fraction in Stuttgart; Barbara Kunz, Expert for German-French Relations IFRI Paris. Moderation: Ralf Fücks, Chairmen Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin.

Contributions commenting the outcome of the elections (in German): "Emmanuel Macron ist Präsident: Neue Hoffnung für Europa" (Christine Pütz) and "Nach der Rekordwahl in Frankreich: Jetzt heißt es Farbe bekennen" (Christine Pütz/Sinah Schnells).

The Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation started a blog, that analysed the Presidential Election in France (in German): Nach der Wahl ist vor der Wahl: Wie es jetzt in Frankreich weiter geht.

Shift to the right in Europe – How to deal with right-wing solgans?

Panel debate – October 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany

The shock that pursued the very good result of the AfD at the parliamentary elections was immense: With more than 12 per cent of the votes and as the third political force the right-wing leaders entered parliament – for the first time since 60 years. In Austria the right-wing party populist-motivated party FPÖ is already well-established. Gauland, Strache, Le Pen or Orban - right-wing populism is successful in Europe as never before.

The cultural historian and author Walter Ötsch and publicist Nina Horaczek from Austria have a year-long experience with the right-wing FPÖ. In their book „Populism for Beginners. A guide to people's seduction" they illustrate how populist argumentation patterns in Europe resemble one another. And that there are effective strategies to oppose them. Together with the authors and Anetta Kahane, chief executive of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, the audience discussed which experiences and strategies are applicable in dealing with populists in Germany. Presentation: Sergey Lagodinsky, Head of division EU/North America Heinrich Böll Foundation.


The Consequences of the Brexit: Chances and Risks for a Green Europe

Panel debate – November 2, 2017 in Berlin, Germany

Will Germany loose its most important partner for climate protection? What does the Brexit mean for the democratisation of Europe? These were the topics of the panel discussion in the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


Capacity Building for the Post-Brexit Generation

„Why We’re Stuck and How We Want to Get Out of This“
9. bis 13. Okotber 2017 in Brüssel, Belgien

With Brexit, the EU seemed to face another crisis. The EU appeared to be stuck, rejected by one of its member states and left to deal with all the problems the EU has. However, there are solutions to the problems of the EU. Brexit presents an opportunity for the EU to come together and be strong. The participants of this capacity building, young Europeans aged 18 to 30, focused exactly on these thoughts. In this 5-day-long project they had the opportunity to analyse how the Post-Brexit genration can influence political debates and empower green ideas. As a result of the capacity building they published a manifesto – a paper that discusses democracy, social justice and the EU’s obligations to the world. And that contains a list of solutions.

Focus on Hungary

Web dossier
all year-long – Prague, Czech Republic

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is compiling a dossier containing articles on the situation in Hungary since the right-wing government came to power in April 2010. The arguments and opinions presented in the dossier provide an acute, sometimes trenchant critique of the current government and its policies. We see our role in supporting the democratic voices in Hungary and raising public attention in Europe with regard to critical developments in our common political space.

We hope that this dossier will help our readers get a better grasp of the controversies surrounding the socio-political changes in Hungary, and thereby involve members of the European public in the crucial debate on democracy in a changing Europe. This debate is not limited to current developments in Hungary. We see democracy as a never-finished task. There is no guarantee against retrogression, and it’s always up to citizens to reinforce democratic structures and procedures through their engagement in the public sphere.



25 Years of Czech and Slovak Foreign Policy

Publication in Czech ans Slovak languages
all-year long – Prage, Czech Republic

In 2018, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the peaceful separation of Czechoslovakia. The two in 1993 newly established states had to find their own voice in foreign policy. As it quickly turned out, the normative focus and clear pro-Western orientation were not given in the way many had hoped – both in the case of Slovakia, and also more recently in the Czech Republic. The publication was published by the Czech Association for International Affairs AMO, the Slovak Institute for Public Affairs IVO (both internationally acknowledged Think Tanks) and the Prague office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

The authors stood for various positions of the academic sphere and civil society in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The publication, that is to be released, critically analyzed each state’s development regarding its foreign policy priorities of the last 25 years. The focus lied mainly on the conflicting strategic issues like the states’ approach towards the EU, the trans-Atlantic partnership, human rights, and economic interests. The 25th anniversary offered an opportunity to reflect what has or has not been done and how and by whom the foreign policy has been shaped. The book consist of 12 (6 Czech and 6 SK) chapters. The authors looked back at the roots, the milestones and important politicians and evaluated the developments so far.



Expert Workshops
all-year long – Brussels, Belgium

With expert talks about the EU's relations with Russia, the US and Turkey, the work of the European Neighbouring Policy of 2015 and 2016 was continued. Expert from European institutions, think tanks, NROs and the authors of the web dossier „Friends or Foes“ discussed the current relations of the EU with Russia, the US and Turkey. The workshops took place on May 30, 2017 – "The realtions of the EU with Turkey", and July 12, 2017 – "The relations of the EU with Russia". The workshops were accompagnied with experts, members of the European Commission and the EAD.

Society without Borders

Publication, Information Stands, Events
From February to Junie 2017 – Skopje, Stip, Veles, Gostivar, Kavadarci, Struga, Tetovo, Bitula, Ohrid, Resen, Probistip in Macedonia

This year’s cooperation with CIVIL was initiated with a presentation of hbs’ brochure Shrinking Spaces in the Western Balkans, focusing on this phenomenon in the Macedonian context. The four panelists addressed topics such as authoritarian tendencies of Nikola Gruevski’s regime, the highly nationalistic construction project of Gruevski’s government - Skopje 2014, violence against civil society and marginalized groups in particular. Furthermore, the Civic Charter and its importance for widening the scope of civil society action was presented.

The promotion of the Civic Charter was continued through field activities in the following towns: Skopje, Štip, Veles, Gostivar, Kavadarci, Struga, Tetovo, Bitola, Ohrid, Resen, Probistip, Gevgelija. The towns were thoughtfully selected to reach out to communities affected by social justice issues. Info-stands with multi-lingual translations (Albanian, Turkish, Roma, Serbian and Vlach language) of the charter were set up. The team of CIVIL engaged in discussing the importance and potential of the Charter with interested citizens, collected signatures and photos of support.

The visits to local communities were used by CIVIL Media’s news team to carry out surveys with the citizens on the topics of social justice and the environment, which were used to compile informative videos published on their website. The citizens detected issues ranging from violations of workers’ rights and hate speech used by politicians, to environmental issues, expressing strong opposition to the construction of a mine in the town of Gevgelija.  Having detected this issue as particularly pertinent, the team of CIVIL carried out a monitoring of the referendum on the question: “Should mines be allowed to be opened in the Municipality of Gevgelija?”

CIVIL also held a series of meetings with prominent activists and organizations with the aim of developing mutual cooperation and providing support for civil activism in the spirit of the Civic Charter. While there was a lot of interest on the part of individual activists, some reluctance was detected among civil society organizations to form an informal network based on these issues. CIVIL conducted individual video interviews with a number of representatives of civil society organizations, experts on social and environmental issues and union leaders. There was an overwhelming consensus among the interviewees about the grave deficiencies in the field of social justice in the country. The lack of real participation of civil society stakeholders in policy making was identified as a particularly pertinent issue. The following topics were also addressed: public health care, social justice, workers’ rights, usurpation of public space, environmental issues, as well as the position of marginalized groups (such as the Roma, sexual and gender minorities).  The most relevant findings of the project were presented on the final conference which took place on June 13th 2017.

The project activities were implemented in a maximally transparent manner, each being presented through the extensive media platforms of CIVIL and their social networks, primarily through CIVIL’s main Facebook Page, as well as the pages Social Justice Now! and Free Elections for the referendum in Gevgelija. Accordingly, the Green CIVIL website publishes media contents relevant for this project in Macedonian, Albanian and English. Furthermore, the websites of CIVIL, in Macedonian, Albanian and English, publish interviews, analyses and other media articles related to this project.


The Future of Youth Participation

Conference, 17.-18. November 2017 – Ilawa and Warsaw, Poland

The conference consisted of two parts, with the first day taking the form of a cycle of debates and workshops on specific topics around the state of effectiveness of civic youth participation in Poland. On the second day, expert working groups on specific forms of support for youth were hold.  The event in Iława received high appreciation, as it was realized under the honorary patronage of the Marshal's Offices of the Voivodships of Warmia and Masuria, Lower Silesia and Holy Cross, the Association of Polish Cities and the Union of Polish Towns.

In addition, the event was attended by local organizations that work with the authorities in the regions and involve young people in politics, which can indirectly contribute to the dissemination of methods that involve young people in an authentic way. The event was attended by young people already active or seeking to get involved in local civic affairs - participants of projects of the Capital City of Warsaw, e.g. Active Warsaw Youth, Spread the School, Warsaw Academy of Young Leaders, as well as delegations of many Youth Councils from all over Poland. They were a living testimony and inspiration for their peers and current local government officials, which can contribute to increasing the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes.

Thanks to the discussion panels and workshops, young people and adults could exchange on their understanding of civic participation and how it is implemented in their respective local self-governments. The numerous presence of youth councilors from different regions of Poland allowed for the identification of key themes for young people – political involvement of youth, effective, “non-staged” participation and tailor-made support by experienced adults, including decision makers and local government officials. A new interesting area with great potential proposed was the topic of politicization of youth.

The closing panel on "Civic engagement and politicization of Youth" turned out to be a great success, because it presented this difficult subject often avoided in the Polish public debate due to the negative image of political discussions in the media and general low social trust in politicians. The key factor here was the creation of an atmosphere of trust and fair political dialogue. Speakers representing various sectors and political options (including those of the current government) differed in their assessment of research and political challenges ahead, nevertheless the debate was characterized by a spirit of high debating culture and the agreement on a general goal. This fact is highly important due to the current political situation in Poland, which is characterized by a divided perception of reality, both fuelling and fuelled by extremely negative emotions.


"Defending Democracy"

all year-long – Berlin, Germany

The European Union is not only an economical union but also a community of values. It is dedicated to respect humans dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rules of law and human rights - especially of minorities. Recent developments show a different picture: European values have obviously been perpetuated. In Bulgaria the interior ministry has evidently intercepted politicians and citizens for many years without a judicial decision. In Hungary premier minister Victor Orban has pushed through constitutional changes, that have cut down the power of the constitutional tribunal and the parliament. Moreover the freedom of press has been weakened massively in the last years. But also in the member states like in Italy or France cases of corruption, restrictions on the freedom of the media have increased. 

This circumstances are the foundation of the idea behind the study "Defending Democracy" that explored legitimate possibilities to strengthen democratic structures in the mentioned countires. Because for countries that are already members of the EU there are no instruments in use, that could legitimate the defense of fundamental values, especially article 7 of the EU Treaty doesn't guarantee a structural protection of democratic values.

The study will be presented in February 2018.


Adaptation of Human Rights Laws in Bosnia-Herzegovina to the EU Aquis Communitaire

Publikation and Advocacy-Meeting, Online Campaign
April to Oktober 2017 – Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

The amendments for the law on foreigners and asylum seekers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that were passed in 2016, do not guarantee protection of discrimination, because sexual orientation and gender identity are still not accepted indicators for jeopardized groups. The Sarajewo Open Center, partner of the project, compiled an analysis about the significant shortcomings in the legislation and presented solutions in the field of human rights, ban on discrimination, access to free legal advice, protection from human trafficking, detention and the right to family reunification.

The publication is available in a printed and online version and was distributed to all relevant stakeholders. The media showed a great interest in the activities of the project.

Media coverage: