Since the end of the East-West conflict in 1990, the shape of Europe has changed dramatically. The European Economic Community, which was founded in 1957 by six Member States, has become the European Union with currently 28 members. Europe, which had been divided by the Iron Curtain for decades, has grown completely new in its history.
The political form of Europe is, however, one generation after the fall of the Iron Curtain still in the making. This does not just mean the contractual structure of the European Union. The foundation of the EU in the 21st century will also consist of the content, values and concrete projects of European integration. On the other hand, in non-EU European countries, the first priority must be to ensure progress in democratization and to permanently pacify existing conflicts. It will also be necessary to clarify the question of whether access or closer links to/with the EU is on the current political agenda.
Extension AND deepening
For all these reasons, Europe is more than just a world region for the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The integration of the EU has given rise to a new, independent policy space that shapes the reality of life for all citizens in Europe. Peace, freedom and social security can no longer be guaranteed within the framework of the nation state in the age of globalization, climate change and energy shortages.
However, the European Union is also currently coming up against the internal and external limits of its ability to act. The enlargement of the EU and the deepening of integration are the only means of overcoming these borders. Without the enlargement of the EU, the historic division of Europe can not be overcome. Without the institutional strengthening of the EU, it will scarcely succeed in securing security and prosperity on the continent and in its immediate neighborhood. Such a strengthened EU will also be better able to act internationally as a peace-political actor and to promote civil models of conflict resolution.
The European crisis of confidence
The rejection of the planned EU Constitutional Treaty by referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005 made it clear that the EU is currently in deep crisis of legitimacy. In many Western European countries, a large proportion of citizens are critical of the EU eastern enlargement of 2004, which was mostly wanted by the political elites. The reverse is true in many Central and Eastern European Member States. There, many citizens advocate membership in the EU. Influential members of the political elite, on the other hand, criticize the delegation of national sovereignty that accompanies this accession.
There is obviously a tension between the enlargement of the EU and the further deepening of its integration. The Heinrich Böll Foundation is committed to this tension in its European work. An active enlargement policy can certainly go hand in hand with deeper integration. A move away from the goal of strengthening federal elements of European cooperation while involving more states in the EU would mean that the EU can no longer live up to its expectations.
What does the Heinrich Böll Foundation want?
In its European work, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has set itself the goal of creating room for an open debate on expanding and deepening the European Union throughout Europe. The foundation wants to act as an idea agency in a green environment and strengthen the European green project. Dialogue and training offers are intended to help promote green networks, especially in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Russia.
Who does what?
The European work of the Foundation is primarily the responsibility of the Unit Europe / North America. It consists of two units, European Union / North America and South East Europe / Eastern Europe / Caucasus, and has offices in Warsaw, Prague, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Moscow, Kiev, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb and Washington.
Other specialist panels of the Heinrich Böll Foundation also see their topics in a European political perspective. These include in particular the Department of Foreign and Security Policy, the Department of Scenarios for the Ecological Turnaround, the Gunda Werner Institute for Feminism and Gender Democracy, the Department of Migration Policy / Intercultural Management.