Framing the midfield between citizens and EU policy actors.

Together with Elena Sandmann I recently evaluated the midfield between citizens and political stakeholder. The article sheds light on the relation between political influence of interest groups in the EU legislative process and pluralist democracy in the European system of multi-level governance. In this context, the article critically examines whether the representation of societal interests can be analytically distinguished from (corporate and private) lobbyism. It is the article’s main thesis that interest representation can only contribute to more democracy and legitimacy in the EU system of multi-level governance if all corporate, governmental, and legislative actors involved in the decision-making process commit themselves to greater transparency. Read more

My St. James Way to Cologne

This time I made my way to the holy as libertarian Cologne! This time I made 146 km of my pilgrimage to Santiago (of already 790 km since Berlin). The stage led me from the Westphalian Sauerland highlands, over the so called Bergische Land into the Cologne Lowland crossing the River Rhine. On foot I became aware of the differences that still today are marked by the small territories of the Holy Roman Empire, divided into Kölsch beer drinkers, Schalke fans, agricultural, working and middle-class economies and of course incredulous, Catholic and Lutheran cultures. That’s the way my home state North Rhine-Westphalia is. However, in Grevenbrück near Lennestadt I started.

I went over the “Heidenstraße”, a way I took since Elspe! The “Pagans’ way” medieval trade route ran through the unspoiled hills of the Sauerland. From Grevenbrück I hiked first to Attendorn. The road still reminded me of the Hochsauerland, with its many Catholic shrines and chapels. In Attendorn, the St John Baptis parish welcomed me in the person of the extremely friendly pastor Neuser. He had “tricked” me with the promise of just a simple place to sleep, but my “bedstead” became a perfect geastroom in the baroque rectory. Despite summer vacations, the community life seemed very lively, as in Giershagen I had a community meeting. The pastor himself was a pilgrim in Spain. He confirmed, however, that not so many pilgrims had knocked on the streets in Attendorn over the years. Too bad they miss real hospitality, including morning coffee and local newspaper.

More in German: Meinerzhagen, Marienheide, Rösrath and then Cologne… further on the “Via Coloniensis” to Weilerswist and then back by train to Berlin.

Fremdschämen not Schadenfreude: Germans sceptical of Brexit deadline delay

Political scientist Bernd Hüttemann, who serves as the Vice President of the European Movement International, said that the decision to delay the deadline was largely in the interests of both the EU and Germany – although the longer-term consequences are unclear.

“A delay doesn’t surprise us because many stakeholders are happy that we don’t have to see the real consequences of a real Brexit,” he said.

“Everyone knows that a no-deal Brexit would be harmful.”

This led to relief – a feeling which was most likely shared by many on both sides of the Channel.

“It’s like in life, when you are getting ready to jump – you really have to jump – but then you don’t have to jump,” he said.

‘Schadenfreude? No, I’d say more like Fremdschämen’

Overall, Hüttemann said the view in Germany was that British institutions – formerly viewed positively – had lost legitimacy.

“People are really surprised,” he told The Local. “For a long time people thought the British way of politics was a good one. Unlike other parts of European politics which were seen as bureaucratic and boring, British politics were seen positively,” he said.

“British politics have lost tremendously in the eyes of the German public. They’ve now fallen behind the European Union in terms of credibility. Now Brussels seems to be much more reasonable than London, which is very odd in Germany.”

Hüttemann said the feeling towards Brexit was not one of Schadenfreude – the German word for taking pleasure in the misfortune of others – but one of Fremdschämen – or the embarrassment felt for someone who has embarrassed themselves.

SEE ALSO: German word of the day: Fremdschämen

“Do you have a word for Fremdschämen in English? No? Well that’s why you have Brexit,” Hüttemann said.

Hütteman agreed with the assessment of London’s Financial Times which said the ‘conventional’ German view is that Brexit is “a stupid mistake which will cost the UK dearly”.

However he said that while the reaction of British institutions to the Brexit process has been surprising, the outcome of leaving the EU was in some ways predictable given the politics of the UK, which often uses Brussels as a “scapegoat”.

https://www.thelocal.de/20190411/germans-sceptical-of-brexit-deadline-delay

Wanderlust in the Westphalian mountains – my St. James Way from Paderborn to Elspe

Wanderlust in Westphalia on my long way to #finiseuropea in Spain! Since this autumn I completed 720 km of 3,000 km from Berlin to Santiago de Compostela. My last stage led me from Corvey Abbey/Höxter to my home city Paderborn. This time I hiked 5 days from Paderborn into the hilly Sauerland region. A new trail follows an old Middle Age path, called Heerweg/Römerweg. In Elspe I made first steps on the Heidenstraße, which is leading to Cologne. I witnessed a beautiful sunny landscape and met friendly people…  

My report in German and my “Hall of Fame” für my supporters.

from Paderborn to Grevenbrück in 5 days 

First steps in my home region Westphalia

Hilly Westphalia […] seizes the attention of every traveller by reason of the thoroughly picturesque beauty of its position in the green-forested valley of an important and historically remarkable mountain range. The little province [Hochstift Paderborn] to which it belonged was in those days one of those hidden away corners of the earth without factories and commerce, without military roads, where a strange face still caused a sensation and a journey of thirty leagues gave even the more prominent person in his district an aura of an intrepid explorer – in short, a spot like which there were so many others in Germany, with all the faults and virtues, all the originality and narrow-mindedness that thrive only under such circumstances.
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: Die Judenbuche (The Jews’ Beech)

On my camino road again! #FinisEuropae & #Wanderlust: I made another 90 km of total 3,000 km to Santiago de Compostela! I started from Höxter at the Weser river to my home city Paderborn, crossing hilly Westphalia and the Egge Hills-Teutoburg Forest Nature Park. It is an old region full of green hills and many baroque Catholic churches – and most important: many villages from my childhood where a big part of my ancestors spent all their famer’s life. My first day lead me to Brakel where I stayed in a monastery. On my way I will do a small detour to that village Anne von Droste-Hülshoff the first time heard of the “The Jews’ Beech Thriller”.

my Tour so far from Berlin to Santiago de Compostela here

Data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Links:

Last steps Amelungsborn nach Kloster Corvey… 

next steps Hochsauerland

My camino to hilly Westphalia (or: home sweet home)

Hilly Westphalia […] seizes the attention of every traveller by reason of the thoroughly picturesque beauty of its position in the green-forested valley of an important and historically remarkable mountain range. The little province [Hochstift Paderborn] to which it belonged was in those days one of those hidden away corners of the earth without factories and commerce, without military roads, where a strange face still caused a sensation and a journey of thirty leagues gave even the more prominent person in his district an aura of an intrepid explorer – in short, a spot like which there were so many others in Germany, with all the faults and virtues, all the originality and narrow-mindedness that thrive only under such circumstances.
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: Die Judenbuche (The Jews’ Beech)

On my camino road again! #FinisEuropae & #Wanderlust: after 559 km another 90 km of total 3,000 km to Santiago de Compostela! Soon I will start from Höxter at the Weser river to my home city Paderborn, crossing hilly Westphalia and the Egge Hills-Teutoburg Forest Nature Park. It is an old region full of green hills and many baroque Catholic churches – and most important: many villages from my childhood where a big part of my ancestors spent all their famer’s life. My first day will lead me to Brakel where I will stay in a monastery. On my way I will do a small detour to that village Anne von Droste-Hülshoff the first time heard of the “The Jews’ Beech Thriller”.

All my St James way to Paderborn is described in German here.

Destination Westphalia – next stage on my way to #Finiseuropae

Only step by step I can reach #Finiseuropae “the end of Europe”. Of course I just want to see the geographical end of Europe. To reach the Atlantic cost on food sounds good. Like for many others the way is the aim. I want to discover the varied continent. I just have wanderlust and want to see Europe in a kind of excavation research. “In short”: I am walking from Berlin to Santiago de Compostella. But as said only in stages, only when time and my mood alows me. My next destination: Abbey of Corvey in my home region Hochstift Paderborn and by the way… I will see 3 UNESCO World heritage properties: St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim, Fagus Factory in Alfeld and Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey. You can follow me on Komoot, Instragram and Twitter.

My route planner tells me it will be over 3,000 km. I will pass Paderborn, Cologne, Trier, Schengen, Metz,  Dijon, Cluny, Taizé, Le Puy-en-Velay taking the Via Podiensis to Spain and then the Camino Francés. I am really not sure when I will reach Santiago, but I have all the time of the world.

And I am faster than I thought. Since 2016 already 20 stages are behind me, which means 430 km. I already crossed Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and I’m now taking the southern part of Lower Saxony. These first stages I could manage to go back and foreward by train. But already in Saxony-Anhalt and near Brunswick there are fine good possibilities to stay over night in pilgrims refugees. But especially between Berlin and the former iron curtain this is not an easy task. Alan Posener is right: the eastern German states compose a region with the most unbelieving people in the world, perhaps after North Korea. But beautiful landscapes, hidden treasures and remarkable historical sights and many many helpful individuals made my first 300 km unforgetable. I made my Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt trip public in German language.

Next week I will walk the last stage in Lower Saxony destination North-Rhine Westphalia, my home state. My route with some high lights:

The following region is the first Catholic one on my way west. I will discover Hildesheim with its St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church. In the evening I will reach Abbey Marienrode. 10 Benedictine nuns will host me.

 

In Alfeld I will be guest of the Lutheran parish St. Nicolai. Another Highlight will be an industrial sight: the Fagus Factory a UNESCO World Heritage

 

Amelungsborn Abbey is a quite remarkable abbey. It’s abbot is Lutharian. I am very curious about my staying there. The hospitality also there will be great.

 

Then I will be on my way to Höxter in Westphalia. Believe it or not my first time in Corvey Abbey. And this Abbey was the dominion to which a big part of my ancestors tithed until the beginning of the 19th century.

Tour done: My summary in German

After EU Court of Justice ruling on refugees: my answers at DW TV

My three interviews at  “Der Tag” at Deutsche Welle TV  this week. Dealing with the refugee situation after the latest European Court of Justice ruling, solidarity and German government responsiblity as well as the EU Rule of Law in Poland, and (yes, not my core topic) US sanctions against Russia.

German Summary also  at Europäische Bewegung Deutschland.

 

Tackling Populism In Europe With A New Form Of Public Diplomacy

Giovanni Sartori underlined rightly that democracy needs to be complicated but must be still easy enough to be explained.

Europe’s landscape of societies is very diverse. The idea that “there are not Member States, but Member Countries,” is an often-undervalued reality in most of the EU and its candidate countries. There are mixed private-public systems including many more actors than just state authorities, with extensive differences. The classic example of a “statist country” is France, with a strong technocratic leadership which gains public support by a simple majority of the electorate. The fifth Republic was created in reaction to a terror-driven civil war and a colonial war; it aimed to provide minimal space for consensus-seeking, self-organized entities, and parliamentarism. Other countries are associated with a traditional European corporatism. The classical example is Austria, where employers’ and employees’ associations are still an integral part of the state’s governance and are criticized as being dusty. The old Scandinavian model, but also the Dutch “polder system” including a strong welfare state, is a pluralistic-corporative model where a “big” parliamentarian democracy is backed by smaller democratic checks and balances throughout society. The Danish call it lille demokrati, meaning “small democracy.” “Big democracy” with elections and parliamentarian decision-making is also based on citizens’ democracy, which is day-in-day-out compromising at school, at the work-place, or in associations. With its strong pluralistic corporatism, Germany is also an example of democratic complication; checks and balances are getting even more complex through federalism.

Read the full text at Turkish Policy Quarterly Spring edition 2017

Britannia isn’t cool any more – my piece in The Guardian

ll the British glamour is gone. Westminster played the fake anti-EU card too much. My today’s article in The Guardian:

With the result of the EU referendum it is now crystal clear: the game has gone too far. The diagnosis of the “UK illness” – creating a beast you cannot control – was always felt in Germany but seldom spoken about out loud. Whenever I talked to stakeholders in Berlin or even German diplomats in London about British politics in the past decade, they were both fascinated by their shiny rhetoric and annoyed by a great lack of solidarity and the permanent gambling in an attempt to cherry-pick the aspects of the EU that suited Britain. Unlike during the 80s and 90s, boring speeches are far more appreciated by the German people now.House of Cards scares us. As simple as that. Read the full article!