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Europe’s power starts at home

Back on Track with Verena Ringler

12. December 2019
Magazine > Voices > Europe’s power starts at home

Join us for a train ride with Verena Ringler, director of European Commons and curator of the Tipping Point Talks 2019. She helps prepare the ground for the next EU and proposes to do things differently to do different things. In the seventh episode she explains why  Europe’s strategic sovereignty starts at home why it starts with people-to-people first.

“In February 2019, I listened to experts at the Munich Security Conference. They ask: How can Europeans be strong in this world of disruption and disorder? Can a new doctrine help? Let’s call it “strategic sovereignty”. Well, here is my answer: European power starts at home and the strongest power is the one that emanates from the people. People are strong when they know each other and maybe even trust each other. When they talk to each other rather than about each other. When they are united, rather than divided. Today, we have loud and clear evidence for the fact that every euro spent on human contact across borders within the EU – we call these people-to-people programmes – is a euro well invested. These euros produce a sense of trust, a sense of togetherness, of Europeanness. So every euro invested on high school exchanges rather than highway projects helps to build the European power base. What is the EU doing to bring people together in its new seven-year budget plan? Well, not enough yet. And I learned that policy makers and budgeters systematically overestimate the impact of so-called cohesion and regional funds while they still systematically underestimate the amazing impact of these people-to-people programmes. So, whoever wants a strong European people, whoever wants a strong European power base, has to turn budget priorities upside down back home. People-to-people is the most effective and the most efficient way to build this European power base. Strategic sovereignty starts at home and it starts with people-to-people first.”

This text and video is published under the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. The name of the author/rights holder should be mentioned as followed. Author: Jovana Trifunovic and Igor Bararon / erstestiftung.org. Cover picture: Verena Ringler, film still. Photo: © Igor Bararon / ERSTE Stiftung.


Back on Track

As our world is facing major geopolitical shifts and challenges, from the rise of nationalism to increased demands for privacy, from balancing growing human needs with environmental limits, there is undoubtedly space for major improvements. We see civil society as the key driving force in this process and have therefore launched the video series Back on Track about social engagement and activism as a clear sign of support to the dedicated change makers in our societies. Europe’s Power starts at home is the seventh episode of the second season of Back on Track.