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Sovereign Europe

Newsletter on European Topics

August 2020


Newsletter on European topics, August 2020

Bertelsmann Stiftung's Newsletter on European topics


Project News

Repair & Prepare: National reforms and financial systems in times of crises

The ECB has often been criticized, not at least since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, our new study shows that the ECB's monetary policy during the euro crisis has not only helped stabilise the common currency but also led to more structural reforms in member states. This result should help policymakers in designing an adequate policy mix during prolonged periods of low growth and deep recessions such as the current corona crisis.

In our latest papers we identified some more effects of the corona crisis on the European economy, such as on the banking sector. A lot will depend on the economic recovery that we will experience. We show that under a tick-shaped recovery, European banks might come under extreme stress. Thus, policymakers need to have an eye on the stability of the European banking system and act swiftly if there are signs of danger. Read more about our latest publications.



Anti-corruption can promote democracy and the rule of law in the EU neighbourhood

If corruption is systemic, the institutions that are supposed to prosecute corruption are a key problem: Corruption undermines the integrity of judges, but also of public officials and politicians. Citizens then have no trust in state institutions. This plays into the hands of populists. Such developments pose a threat to democracy.

The European Commission has outlined new goals for the future Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020. Significantly improving governance is emphasised by the focus on the rule of law and the fight against corruption.

The present country reports analyse Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Why is it so hard to change unpopular power constellations, even in the favourable case that international partners and reform-oriented citizens work together? You can read here how corruption affects people in almost all areas of life – and why Europe should continue to engage in reforms when the rule of law is only a façade in its neighbourhood.



Interview + Publication

More citizen participation within the EU

The European Union likes to see itself as a “Europe of the Citizens”. But for many it remains remote, elitist or even undemocratic. In a time when the EU needs the support of its citizens more than ever, it is vital to develop new ideas and strategies for participation.

A conversation with our experts Dominik Hierlemann and Anna Renkamp and a report on a cross-border citizen dialogue with participants from three European countries and the German and Bulgarian Foreign Ministers. Read more



The Urgent Need for Robust Trust – Cultivating an environment in which algorithmic decision-making serves society

We welcome the European Commission’s effort to harmonize AI regulation and create an ecosystem in which algorithmic decision-making systems work for people and become a force for good in society. In this paper we want to share our findings from the “Ethics of Algorithms project” as part of the consultation on the “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust.” More



Digital Sovereignty in the EU

"Digital sovereignty" is a declared goal of the German EU Council Presidency. However, for a term that is so central to the current political debate, it is very vague. What exactly can digital sovereignty mean? What are the necessary framework conditions to enable the EU to assert its own values and legal concepts in the digital space? In this policy brief, Falk Steiner and Viktoria Grzymek explain the underlying problem once more and discuss what digital sovereignty can mean in concrete terms: a better awareness and control of dependencies in central elements of the digital infrastructure. Go to the publication here.


The Paper was written as part of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Reflection Group on European Public Goods.



How resilient are European countries and regions?

The coronavirus crisis and its continuing effects on European economies has propelled the debate about crisis resistance and resilience firmly back onto the EU agenda. Our new policy brief shows that already prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 disparities in the degree of resilience between EU regions were existing. In particular, South and Eastern Europe as well as rural regions more remote from metropolitan areas perform below average in terms of diversity, skills, innovation and quality of government. Adjusted structural policy measures are needed to improve economic resilience within European regions and to advance the process of achieving cohesion between them. More


Policy Brief

We must protect competition

The coronavirus is hitting the economies hard. There is a threat of an increase in market concentration with consequences for competitiveness. How has competition recently developed in Germany? What role does it play for productivity and innovation? More



The Optimism Gap

While we tend to be overly optimistic with regards to our personal future, we are much grimmer when it comes to the future of our societies. In out latest eupinions study ‘The Optimism Gap’, we seek to understand this bias.

In particular, we examine how it plays out in times of Covid-19 and how it might be mitigated.

‘Once we have passed the eye in the needle of this virus crisis, there might be a lesson for those working to counter the crisis in trust and credibility that politicians have been facing for many years now’, emphasise the authors Catherine De Vries and Isabell Hoffmann. We find that being honest about the situation and the choices available to individuals and society, does not cause mistrust or disrespect. Give us a read or, and that’s new, subscribe to our podcast where the authors summarise the key findings for you.



Beyond GDP: What counts for economic & social performance? Understanding different daily life challenges of Europeans

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed major challenges for Europe and shed new light on some areas of daily life. What is really important to us? Are people in systemic professions adequately paid? Can we currently think about sustainability and digitisation, or is it primarily important to preserve jobs and economic power? In a virtual conference organised by the "Europe's Future" programme and the OECD-hosted "High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress" (HLEG), members of the HLEG and other experts came together to discuss well-being indicators and their relevance in the crisis. Amongst others, Nobel Laureate Stiglitz and State Secretaries Schmidt and Kastrop participated. 200 attendees from all over the world followed the event. More


GED Blogpost

Brave green world? Using COVID-19 as a window of opportunity for a more sustainable global economy

The corona pandemic and its economic consequences may result in deteriorating climate protection within the medium- and long-term. Economic policy measures could be taken for the prevention of possible drawbacks in tackling climate change. More



China as a Transatlantic Challenge

The world is confronting unique changes in relations among the United States, Europe, and China, which have now been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. In February, 43 China specialists from the United States and Europe met in Berlin to take stock of the most recent China policy debates on both sides of the Atlantic and explore possibilities to enhance cooperation. Drawing on the expertise of all conference participants, the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the George Washington University China Policy Program, jointly published a comprehensive report on the changing U.S. and European views of, and relations with, China. Read and download the full report here.


GED Publication

World-class patents in cutting-edge technologies: Where Does Europe Stand?

The international balance of power in innovation is shifting – to the advantage of East Asia while Europe loses ground. This is the central finding of a new study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on the development of national and regional portfolios of patents in cutting-edge technologies since 2000. Innovation is the fundament of social progress and international competitiveness. This is particularly true for new developments in important cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printing or artificial intelligence. The study takes a closer look at the most important patents in 58 of these technologies. Based on a new approach to patent assessment, the Swiss Research Institute and Consultancy EconSight analyzes how the innovative power of major economies and world regions has shifted between 2000 and 2019. More



EU and the Syrian tragedy: humanitarian aid and more political engagement

Even if the Corona crisis focuses on the situation in the EU, many crises in our immediate European neighbourhood continue to hold dangerous potential - as in Syria. The numbers of human fates are overwhelming: out of 23 million Syrians, only 12 million are still living where they were before the outbreak of war in 2011. Today, 12 million need daily humanitarian assistance; the EU covers 80% of the cost. A stronger EU political commitment to ending war and conflict is proposed.

Following the EU's Syria Donors' Conference in late June 2020, Bertelsmann Stiftung and Clingendael Institute hold a joint online conference analysing the current conflict situation around Syria and the Syrians at home and abroad as well as the financial and political commitment of the European institution and the EU Member States. More



In Crisis, Europeans Support Radical Positions

Europe finds itself in an unprecedented crisis which is pushing many of its citizens into existential uncertainty. Our EU-wide poll, carried out for the Europe’s Stories project at the University of Oxford in March 2020, finds that as the virus was beginning to spread across the continent, Europeans are embracing some radical positions. Remarkably, 71% of Europeans support the introduction of a universal basic income. Equally remarkably, yet much more worryingly so, 53% of young Europeans place more confidence in authoritarian states than democracies when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. Read the full report, written by Timothy Garton Ash and Antonia Zimmermann, here.

Since the publication of this piece, our latest eupinions trends from June 2020 have confirmed that the Covid-19 crisis has shifted European public opinion in various other regards.




Digital Democracy – What Europe can learn from Taiwan

Join our live Web Discussion with Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s renowned Digital Minister. Together with the tech community and civil society she made Taiwan a world leader in innovative citizen participation. Audrey Tang has a fascinating story to tell. Read more



The EU and its Conference on the Future of Europe

The EU institutions decided to hold a two-year conference on the future of the European Union. Together with the (at the time) French State Minister for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin, her Austrian colleague Karoline Edtstadler, MEPs, and experts on EU policy we discussed during an online dialogue: How can citizens be involved in the conference? What topics should be addressed? And how can and must the results be implemented? Read more




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Jake Benford

Program Europe´s Future


Bertelsmann Stiftung

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10117 Berlin


Phone: +49 30 275788-157

Fax +49 5241 81-681302




The Bertelsmann Stiftung, based in Gütersloh, Germany, is a nonprofit, private

operating foundation in accordance with Section 1 of North Rhine-Westphalia's Foundation Law.

The district government of Detmold serves as its supervisory authority.

Founder: Reinhard Mohn

Chairman of the Board of Trustees: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Werner J. Bauer

Executive Board: Dr. Ralph Heck (Chairman), Dr. Brigitte Mohn, Prof. Dr. Daniela Schwarzer