Politikwerkstatt: What are Germany’s interests in Europe?
As Germans, we must take responsibility and not shy away from representing our interests in Europe and worldwide!” - this position is recently heard more often. But what precisely are our interests, as Germans and as Europeans?
No matter if in our daily life, we are engaged with foreign policy or not – our personal interests and perspectives will depend on the development of our foreign relations. Therefore, debating questions about our interests should not be left to policy makers and experts alone. More exchange with citizens is needed, especially with opinion leaders and influencers in their specific surroundings. With the new project “Politikwerkstatt”, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik – create a new platform for this important discourse.
The event series started on July 4th. With regards to German violations of European contracts caused by high air pollution in cities, the attendees discussed German interests within Europe. In small groups, ideas and arguments were exchanged. Some participants considered it as central to observe European rules in order to protect the own credibility, but also processes and institutions of the EU. Others prioritized the protection of jobs in the car manufacturing industry – considering this a German core interest with the aim to maintain peace and not to foster populism even more.
Some participants pointed out that it should be the German main interest to invest in sustainable technologies and to strengthen education and innovation in order to develop future industries. This strategy was apt to protect the environment, to stick to the threshold values in air pollution and in the same time, was a guarantor for long term wealth and societal peace.
„The discussion was controversial“, says Claudia Huber, responsible for the project area Europe at Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft. “In the end, most participants realized that there is not one single German interest within Europe, and that German interests and European interest often overlap.” The numerous actors in a country, be it industry, lobbies, consumers, environmentalists or employees, all pursued their own interests and positions.
It remains a goal of the program Politikwerkstatt to discuss German interests with citizens and also to work on how Germany’s role within Europe can be developed with the aim to protect the European democracy in peace, freedom and wealth.
A final publication will record the results of the event series. They will also be presented during the next “Denk ich an Deutschland” conference in March 2019 and will be integrated in discourses with politicians.
The next event in the series will take place in Dresden.