#PublicDiplomacyEU instead of diplomatic statism!

Use a wide range of social forces to achieve European integration! Germany needs “the will to play a key strategic role”. And “Germany’s leadership role” is supposed to “revitalise Europe”. This review process has great expectations of German foreign policy in Europe. And it is certainly true that crises all over the world are an indication of the sort of challenges facing German foreign policy. However, German diplomacy can only be successful if it works with stakeholders from society and business, as Germany has swarm intelligence and is a pluralistic society. My contribution at review 2014 published by the German Foreign Office.

Further information on European Public Diplomacy at netzwerk-ebd.de (in German)

Mind the gap. Germany and Britain divided on European democracy

Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the party which got 7% of the votes and 7 seats at the European Parliament elections in Germany, joined the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. How could this happen? Didn’t the UK’s Premier promise Germany’s Chancellor not to strengthen her conservative competitor? A majority of ECR MEPs voted against the advice of the British Conservative party leader David Cameron and it transpires that even members of his own party didn’t follow his instruction.

What does it mean for Germany? In the first instance not a lot, it seems. German media reported softly about the new joint eurosceptic forces. The main news on German TV (Tagesschau/heute) didn’t mention it at all. No comparison to the big headlines and outrage generated by Cameron’s resistance and Merkel’s brief hesitation towards Jean-Claude Juncker’s candidacy for Commission President. That was big news for them.

German media, parties and representative associations were united behind the “Spitzenkandidat”. 60% of Germans back the idea that it is the European Parliament that should decide on the new European Commission President. Just 26% of the Germans find it right that the heads of state and governments should be the ones choosing the new President (Infratest-DIMAP/ARD).

The UK’s political and media strategy totally underestimated the pluralistic German society and the democratic moment. Some years ago I had a long chat with a British Channel4 journalist. He was sent to the deep province of Germany to find Eurosceptics and anti-Greek sentiment. After many attempts interviewing members of a “Männerchor”, traditionally a very conservative German microcosm in the countryside, he gave up and came to acknowledge German pluralism as one source of pro-European feelings. I told him something about “Schwarmintelligenz” of birds or fishes. German society is not monolithic, so it is harder to be ruled by a media spin (than in the UK maybe).

The collective intelligence of Germans keeps them together without guidance, because they are independent.

Some month ago I met British government representatives in London to explain that German small and medium sized entrepreneurs, saving bank associations, trade unions but even the governing party CDU don’t have direct partners in the UK anymore. The UK became too Westminster centred and lost sight of German political diversity. The loss of understanding is evident. Germans are angry about the snooping by the NSA and its UK partner Government Communications Headquarters. But it appears that GCHQ gathered the wrong kind of intelligence and failed to assess correctly the mood in Germany. Nobody told Downing Street?

Since the financial crisis, Germans are more wary of London than annoyed by Brussels bureaucracy. The European elections confirmed Germany’s deep commitment to the development of European democracy and solidarity. There is a feeling that the UK doesn’t share the same commitment.

Returning to the AfD, this new euro-sceptic party got 2 million votes in the European election, which was exactly the same result as in the federal elections in 2013. Due to an overall drop in turnout, AfD got a relatively higher percentage in the EP election. Therefore CDU doesn’t have to be too concerned about its wannabe rival. It’s size, appeal and influence remains small.

In the same time Germans are used to grand coalitions, not only on state or federal level. The co-operation between CDU/CSU and SPD became remarkably smooth especially on European politics. People understand that grand coalitions between mainstream parties are those that offer leadership and real solutions in a time of crisis. From this perspective, the new Eurosceptic coalition between the AfD and the Tories appears to be a negligible issue for them.

Of course most of the Germans love British culture and rhetoric (sic!). But is this enough when they start to dislike Westminster’s attitude, financial market’s policy, spying and an increasingly hostile stance towards free movement of persons as well as the Germans’ understanding of the concept of democracy.
So Merkel will keep calm and carry on. Irrespective of whether the Tories decided to partner with her fringe rivals, the AfD. The lines of Social and Christian European Democrats will keep coming closer together. There will be a big majority for Juncker in the European Parliament and in the European Council. Nordic countries and central and Eastern European countries count more on Germany than on the UK these days. Germany is now far enough from World War II and Eastern Europe is more than annoyed by British hostility against immigrants.

But what about Britain’s future in the EU. It will be offered some modest (but, in many cases, non-consequential concessions) in order to keep it in the European Union. Britain is admired because it is pragmatic. So it is up to Britain to utilise the obvious benefits of the EU. And don’t mention the war anymore, dear tabloid press… The Germans would laugh out loud.

The European Movement Germany is 65 years today. It was founded on 13 June 1949 by, among others, Duncan Sandys, Winston Churchill’s son-in-law.

Published at theEuroBlog byEuropean Movement UK 13/06/2014

Passau Essays on Lobbyism & Europeanisation

Lobbyism & Europeanisation. Those two terms are normally not used in the same time. My proseminar Interest representation in the European Union at the Passau University Universität Passau is dedicated to both fields of interest. After three semesters it is time to present interesting and worth reading essays – with the authorised by the authors of the students and the Jean Monnet Chair on European Politics. The serial in German language will be initiated by an essay on a difficult and theory oriented topic:  Europeanisation by “Goodness of fit” vulgo “Misfit” by Agnes Kultzen. How much do theories fit to reality? Kultzen is sceptical. Other articles follow in no particular order, eg on the Dalli lobby affaire.

Brussels Business on air

This week Brussels Business will be aired. I was lucky enough to see a preview in Berlin a few months ago. I am glad that finally everybody can follow this masterpiece of dramatic documentary or “docu-thriller” (IMDB). But stay critical: the drama might be misleading.

  • It will be shown 12 February 2013 08:16 p.m, on Arte, with a repeat 24 February 2013 01:35 a.m.
  • From 5 February 2013 it will be online for 30 days at Arte: The Brussels Business

You can read my critical view of it here

Wikipedia article

Internet Movie Data Base

Official Facebook page

Official Webpage

Euro Crisis Demands for a European Public Broadcasting Co-operation

More and more often there is a demand for a European public space. And this is clearly related to the current crisis. European politics is dominating national media as it has never happened before. National media and politicians not just get a crash course in European politics but need to deal also with EU member states they always neglected before. European journalism is needed which adds to national parish-pump politics. In an article of the German press agency dpa I recently demanded for a real European public broadcasting co-operation. There is no reason that something which functions exemplary and well in Germany should not work in Europe. The example should not be the centralist 2nd programme ZDF but the federal organised 1st programme ARD.

Full article in German: Euro-Krise bietet Chance für europäische Medienöffentlichkeit, von Miriam Schmidt, dpa

How I became a JEFfer

Growing-up in a nice province in West Germany in the 80ies I always got a feeling there must be something outside, which is international, open, transparent, not spoiled by cold war, 1968 ideology and party fights on nothing. The only international organisations I saw being present in my home city were the British Rhine Army, the Catholic Church and a Europe Day committee. So why not starting with a JEF section? But beyond the local level JEF gave me the impression of not being European paralysed by left/right-wing fights. Those days JEF-D was mainly consisting of male “youth” over 30…  As German JEFfers still were fighting the wall came down. Liberty! But no joy in JEF. In December 1989 delegates of the JEF-D Congress were shocked by a possible German reunification. I wanted to escape.

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Europeanisation and Lobbying in Passau

Back again! During the winter semester I spend some interesting days at Passau University. I am looking forward to leading the seminar on Europeanisation and Lobbying at the Jean Monnet Chair for European Politics. In two block seminars the students and I seek to shed light on the lobby world in the multi-level system of the European Union.

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Hidden by the crisis: Uncontrolled explosion of national EU actors

One aspect of the current EU financial crisis has been the proliferation of EU actors within the Brussels circle and the exclusion of national-level actors, something that can endanger the idea of European integration in the future, I warn in “Opinions” at EurActiv.com.

“Crisis, crisis, crisis. Many connect the current financial turmoil to an allegedly weak common currency, the euro. Others blame the institutional framework for an inadequate response to the crisis. A high number of commentators fear radical treaty changes as the outcome is unpredictable.

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