A Europe of cool heads? And hearts?
A Europe of cool heads? And hearts?
This weekend, the franco-german federation of twinning cities is meeting for their annual congress in Dortmund. Their motto "Europe in the heart and heads” could not have more urgency as the German and French governments announced the rescheduling of their upcoming summit and Olaf Scholz is visiting Emmanuel Macron to ease tensions. Officially claiming scheduling issues, it is easy to suspect differing opinions on key topics to be the actual reason for the French German dissonances. France's stance on the MidCat pipeline that could deliver gas from the Ibieran peninsula to Germany and Europe is causing boulversements in Germany, while the proposed national cap on gas prices of Germany is raising tempers not only in France. Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and winter on Europe's doorstep, we must not forget that the European project is a project of cooperation and connection - in the heads and in the hearts. It is a project that ensures peace and stability, the building blocks for economic opportunity. Putting national interests first in a joint crisis goes against the very idea of Europe and is a meager return on both French and German regular pledges to advance European integration.
The European Union is a complex project but its underlying idea is straightforward: creating links can preserve peace. Whether it is joint European research or regional cohesion projects, Interrail to experience other countries, Erasmus to make friends across the continent or twinning partnerships between cities, the European principle is creating connections. Learning about our differences and similarities allows us to gain perspective and helps reduce prejudices. Connections build the social tissue that can grow a European sentiment and identity in the long term. It would be a Europe of "hearts" to go along with today's Europe of "heads". And while we desperately need more European "hearts" across all levels of society, it is France and Germany bumping "heads" instead of acknowledging their responsibility for the success of the European project.
Everybody loses from not cooperating
France and Germany are founding members of the European project. Both countries also have strong bilateral ties such as the Aachen treaty that aims to facilitate cooperation from defense to culture. Whether bilateral or on the European stage: cooperation moves the European project forward. It is easy to cooperate if things go well. It is essential to cooperate in times of crises, when the sentiment is to follow just the opposite. It requires cool "heads" to prevail. Heads that think European instead of their respective national short term interest, because no country alone has the military capacity to defend itself. No country alone can pull up borders that will protect it from climate change. And no country can expect the European project to succeed without the solidarity of getting through the upcoming winter together. We are already paying the price for our lack of solidarity with Italy having to manage migration to Europe all by itself for 20 years which is one of the main reasons for electing a far-leader recently. Will the European spirit be high after a winter of member states left to fend for themselves? France and Germany will influence the path of European integration by their actions in the upcoming months - not by showing their dissonance, but by showing responsibility to advance integration and European solidarity.
Therefore, the theme of the congress could not be more appropriate. Today more than ever, we need "heads" who think European and who work together, so that we all have the chance to develop the European "hearts" that our continent so sorely needs.
As the first truly pan-European party, Volt is committed to reforming the European Union and responding to today's challenges in a coordinated way at European level. Volt's vision: a progressive Europe with an inclusive society, a climate-friendly economy, an adaptable education system and self-determined digitalisation.
Volt is convinced that only the democratic participation of all European citizens will prepare us for a sustainable, economically strong and socially just future. This is why Volt acts at all levels - from local to European, as a movement and as a party. The movement gives everyone a voice and the opportunity to engage politically from within society. Today, Volt is present all over Europe: thousands of people of all ages and professions are involved in 30 European countries with teams in hundreds of cities.
Sven Franck - Co-president Volt France
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Rebekka Müller - Co-president Volt Germany
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Picture by the German Council on Foreign Relation