EM Germany: Multi-faceted debates for a better Europe | General assembly 2019
On 24th June, the European Movement Germany (EM Germany) held its most important event of the year, the general assembly. Members from all different parts of the society, the economy and politics gathered together to decide on the political demands for the year 2019/20 and elect the new executive board.
Richard Kühnel, the parting representative of the European Commission in Germany, spoke affectively about EM Germany. In his words, the organisation spurred the European discourse and assured a progressive and constructive European policy in Germany. His participation in the general assembly is likely going to be his last official appearance as representative.
President Dr. Linn Selle spoke about the current situation of the European Union one month after the election of the European Parliament which is defined by an approval of Europe and the will to shape the continent. However, this motivation origins only from the European citizens. The parties, on the other side, show a lack of motivation for the European project and are willing to enter a political dispute instead. Furthermore, Selle thanked the member organisations since they are the ones carrying the European idea into their organisations and move the people to engage with Europe. She called for “European courage” to push integration forward with regards to respect of the Spitzenkandidaten process, EU electoral reform or the next Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU.
In his annual report, secretary general Bernd Hüttemann showed the importance of PR for the members. The representation of the pluralistic opinions of the different organisations are an essential part of the media presence of the EM Germany.
This year’s “Woman of Europe”, Katharina Wolf, spoke about her reasons to support Europe through her work. She is the chairwoman of the Union of European Federalists in Saxony, Germany, where nationalism is very common. For Wolf, these circumstances show all the more the necessity to spread the European idea.
After treasurer Peter Hahn’s report on finances, a debate between the members and the executive board on the highest positions in the EU, the German direction during the European elections and the strengthening of democratic processes was started. The discussion showed that democracy needs a discourse and a culture of debate between stakeholders.
Later on, democratic processes were also exercised in practice as delegates elected seven new members of the executive board: Katrin Staffler (member of the parliament, CDU), Ulrike Hiller (state councillor, SPD), Leo Lüddecke (Volt Germany), Lina Furch (Council of European Municipalities andRegions), Sina Frank (German Trade Union Confederation), as well as Andrea Dombois (European Movement Saxony) and Jakov Devčić (Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation).
After lunch, the general assembly welcomed its’ two guests of honour: the Finnish Ambassador to Germany Anne Sipiläinen and the parliamentary undersecretary of the ministry of finances Bettina Hagedorn. Both women held a keynote speech on Europe. Ambassador Sipiläinen addressed the importance of climate protection and equality as two necessary priorities of the EU’s policy. Furthermore, the European Parliament as well as every other European institution should be staffed equally, and digital communication should be increased to save paper. Undersecretary Hagedorn spoke about a “European way of life” and stressed the importance of multilateralism for a functioning world order. By referring to the European council, she also addressed climate change which could only be tackled on an European and international level.