Since Karina Frank and Tim Bader have joined us, the team of permanent planpolitik staffers now comprises 16 people. While Karina is now team member in the field of “Democracy and Society”, Tim is getting stuck into “Global Interrelationships” and “Economy and Energy”. Both started with us as freelancers and quickly convinced us – both professionally and as people. Welcome to the team. It’s great to have you on board!
As the team grows, so does the need for office space. While in 2017 we had to search for a very long time for further office space in the Reuterkiez district of Neukölln, this time things went very smoothly. We were able to open our third office on Friedelstraße directly opposite our original in February. Our efforts to one day turn Friedelstraße into planpolitikstraße are continuing apace.
What do the regions have to do with Europe and what visions for the EU of the future can be discovered there? Since 2018, this question has been investigated by the Regional Parliaments Lab (REGIOPARL) research project headed by Prof. Ulrike Guérot at Donau-Universität Krems in Austria. planpolitik was present in the Lower Austrian parliament of St. Pölten when the first so-called intervention of the project took place. This event format is intended as a field study and will be carried out in a total of 15 regional parliaments in seven EU member states. It will bring together members of each regional parliament beyond everyday parliamentary routine. They meet to open-endedly discuss the distribution of competences (defence policy at European level, agricultural policy at regional level, etc.), the institutional architecture and a possible territorial reorganisation of Europe using different concepts of “region”. The aim is to find out what a democratic Europe for all can look like.
We had developed the discussion format in advance and accompanied the politicians present as they followed the day’s mission to rethink democracy. In small working groups, innovative visions of the future were developed next to feasible ideas. Over the course of the next 14 interventions, the aim will continue to be to offer professional politicians the opportunity and space to leave everyday business behind for a day and discuss visionary ideas for Europe. We are curious!
April saw us facilitate two events on behalf of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. What the two events had in common was that they brought together groups of international young professionals. The newly founded International Adenauer Network celebrated its premiere in Berlin at the beginning of the month. This network connects young politicians from all over the world – and that actually means from Brazil to New Zealand, from Mongolia to Tanzania – for a regular exchange on current developments. With this crowd we moderated a scenario workshop discussing the issue of a new system competition. Will liberal democracies prevail as the predominant form of society? Are autocratic systems becoming more and more dominant? Or will the systems continue to coexist? The participants’ different horizons of experience produced three intensively discussed, potential paths of development. In the end, the experts formulated policy recommendations that shared one goal: to revert the trend towards autocratic rule and to strengthen and expand liberal structures.
The catchment area of the KAS MENA Leadership Academy, whom we met in Istanbul at the end of the month, is somewhat narrower. We conducted an intensive four-day training course on leadership, negotiation and lobbying with 20 participants from seven MENA countries – from Morocco to Lebanon. What constitutes good leadership? How do I use my BATNA? And what are successful strategies when interacting with politicians? In the course of the training, the concepts and theories we presented were repeatedly put to the test: How can these strategies be applied in countries where politics and society often lack transparency or even functioning parliaments? This discussion was very fruitful for us and clearly showed how far theory and practice sometimes diverge.
There was great passion for democracy and freedom in both Berlin and Istanbul, and the participants spoke enthusiastically of “Konrad’s” support (as in Konrad Adenauer). We share this enthusiasm because in both programmes the Adenauer Foundation has brought together great young people full of commitment.
December 2018 saw the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To mark this occasion, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has launched the project #freiundgleich. It looks at the unique significance of human rights from different angles and with different approaches – there are theatre workshops, a travelling exhibition, panel discussions and online publications. Our contribution to the EKD project are five short simulation games that deal with current issues: sea rescue in the Mediterranean, power relations in times of #MeToo, dealing with extreme right-wing opinions in voluntary work, the possibilities and limits of freedom of religion and corporate responsibility in the textile industry. All games question how our society deals with human rights in concrete situations. Are they really the same for all people? Or do economic or (power) political reasons repeatedly lead to the acceptance of restrictions on human rights?
All five games are designed for up to 20 participants and take about 120 minutes including introduction and evaluation. They are accompanied by a detailed manual explaining the game method and giving concrete suggestions for facilitating the games. After all, the idea is that interested multipliers facilitate the simulation games independently. All game materials will be included in the #freiundgleich project’s educational backpack and can be purchased via the project page from late summer. If you would like to try out the simulation games sooner than that, you can do so at the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag 2019 at the end of June in Dortmund, where for three days we will facilitate a selection of these simulation games.
In the end, it wasn’t quite enough for a win. But at least our simulation game “Union Laboratory” was one of eight finalists in the Altiero Spinelli Prize for Outreach at the end of April. By awarding this prize, the European Commission honours projects that improve the understanding of European politics. We were in very good company at the ceremony in Brussels. It was very inspiring to get an impression of the many great projects and initiatives that are working throughout Europe to make the European Union and the European idea more tangible. By the way: thanks to the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Heinz-Nixdorf-Stiftung, the Unions Laboratory can be played for free until the end of the year (in German). So, go ahead and relaunch the EU – all you need is five smartphones and internet access!
In the future, when the United Services Trade Union ver.di conducts the simulation game “All signs are pointing to a strike” with its negotiators, honorary members of collective bargaining committees and working members, negotiating and argumentation won’t be the only skills trained. The one-day simulation game aims above all to bring the participants closer to the process of collective bargaining, to highlight the need for assertiveness and to understand the importance of membership recruitment. In concrete terms, the participants are to be prepared for real collective bargaining in the health sector. This includes presenting oneself wisely to representatives of the press (the game facilitators). Finally, public support plays an important role in such negotiations.
The game will be handed over to our client ver.di shortly. In preparation to that, a
train-the-trainer workshop took place at the beginning of April, enabling union officials to facilitate the simulation independently.