Young teenage girl waving with the European Union flag in the city.

Unity is Europe's Strength

Gone are the days when we could celebrate our common Europe as a self-evident peacemaking and peacekeeping achievement. The world has changed dramatically with the war against Ukraine, and Europe has changed too. It has moved closer together. It is taking on challenges in lockstep. That is onea reason to be confident – and to celebrate Europe, as Kosovo and Luxembourg are doing on May 9 with an official holiday. In the other states, the European flag will be raised. Against the backdrop of the year’s Europe Day, the Bertelsmann Stiftung provides a comprehensive and professional foundation of its studies, analyses and surveys. We have summarized our findings for you here once again. 

Contact persons

Foto Jake Benford
Jake Benford
Senior Project Manager
Foto Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook
Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook
Senior Advisor
Foto Nathan Crist
Nathan Crist
Project Manager
Foto Mark Fischer
Mark Fischer
Senior Project Manager
Foto Katharina Gnath
Dr. Katharina Gnath
Senior Project Manager
Foto Christian Hanelt
Christian Hanelt
Senior Expert Europe, Neighbourhood and the Middle East
Foto Isabell Hoffmann
Isabell Hoffmann
Senior Expert
Foto Cora Francisca Jungbluth
Dr. Cora Francisca Jungbluth
Senior Expert China and Asia-Pacific
Foto Miriam Kosmehl
Miriam Kosmehl
Senior Expert Eastern Europe and EU Neighbourhood
Foto Lucas Merlin Resende Carvalho
Lucas Merlin Resende Carvalho
Project Manager
Foto Daniela Schmidt
Daniela Schmidt
Project Manager
Foto Thomas Schwab
Dr. Thomas Schwab
Senior Expert
Foto Stephan Vopel
Stephan Vopel
Director
Foto Peter Walkenhorst
Dr. Peter Walkenhorst
Senior Project Manager
Foto Stefani Weiss
Stefani Weiss
Senior Expert EU Governance, Foreign and Security Policy
Foto Malte Tim Zabel
Dr. Malte Tim Zabel
Co-Director

Content

On May 9, 1950, then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented a plan that became the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 and, much later, the European Union. The economy was at the center of the founding of the ECSC. And today, too, the economy, the EU's internal market, is one of the most important cornerstones of the European community of states. Today, the economy not only plays an important role internally, but is also a central tool of geopolitics in an increasingly multipolar world. How strong is Europe's footprint in its immediate neighborhood? How do China, the U.S. and Russia compare? Is the EU able to leverage its economic power politically? Our experts have gone through this question in a study. They examined individual sectors, looked at interdependencies and concluded that strength in such an impressive number of areas should also be reflected in political influence.   

As unified as Europe should appear to the outside world, it is not as unified internally. There are major differences among individual regions of Europe, both in terms of their overall economic strength and their readiness for digital and green transformation. . In a wide-ranging study, our experts, led by co-authors Thomas Schwab and Nathan Crist, determined the technological capabilities of each individual region for this dual transformation. At the heart of the study is the question of how regions can cooperate with each other to drive forward green and digital innovations. The result: The potential is there, but we need more cross-border cooperation to tap into these opportunities. We have presented this study in recent days at a series of conferences in the capitals of the European Union.

Billions of Euros for Europe’s future

A blog post by our expert Jake Benford deals with the money from the European Structural and Investment Funds is put to good use, and why this is still far too rare. One finding is that making sufficient funds available is one thing. However, it is difficult to create structures in the various European countries and regions that can also use these funds effectively.

This is more important than ever. Around 350 billion euros from various cohesion funds were available in the EU between 2017 and 2021, writes our Europe expert Nathan Crist. However, these have by no means been used exclusively for cohesion issues; instead, fund money has acted as a kind of first aid. Many billions went to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, to care for refugees, especially from Ukraine, and finally to deal with the energy crisis. In response to the U.S. government's Inflation Reduction Act, the European Union agreed on the Green Deal Industrial Plan. This is intended to prevent the EU from being left behind in terms of future technologies because companies migrate to the U.S. in order to skim off subsidies there.

How important is China for the European Union?

The fact that Europe could draw more strength from its own capabilities has thus become clear once again. However, the same questions keep coming up: What are the others doing? How can Europe secure its place between the trading giants USA and China? And above all: How can we avoid becoming too dependent on China? Our latest study, by our co-author and China expert Cora Jungbluth, among others, comes to a surprising conclusion: According to this study, the profits from investments by German companies in China and the associated dependencies are much smaller than assumed. In this issue, tThe EU is much more important for Germany.   

The importance of the common economic area of Europe was also emphasized by Paschal Donohoe, Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and President of the Eurogroup, at an event at the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Berlin House. He drew historical parallels in his keynote address and in conversation with our expert on European economic policy, Katharina Gnath: Ireland, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its EU membership this year, and Europe, he said, have repeatedly managed over the past century to overcome critical phases by making the right decisions and reach the point where we are today: a united European Union with high approval ratings among the population. "Progress is always possible, especially in times of crisis," was his interim conclusion.

"It's the economy, stupid" was once the campaign slogan of future U.S. President Bill Clinton. The saying still fits - and also for the tradition in the Union, cultivated since 1985, of choosing European Capitals of Culture. Clemens Gerland has investigated how much the economy is involved in culture in this case. His conclusion: the number of tourists is growing, and with it the number of employees and gross domestic product per capita. 

Europe and the War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has been raging for more than a year. Nothing determines European action as much as the Russian attack on its western neighbor. For the Bertelsmann Stiftung, too, the war and support for those fleeing it remain a central issue. Can Ukraine win the war? Are the Ukrainians also defending European values in the fight against the Russian army? Should Europe continue to supply weapons? These and other questions were asked by eupinions, our opinion research tool, to Europeans on the anniversary of the beginning of the war. It was eupinions’  fourth poll to survey Europeans’ attitude towards the war in Ukraine. One of the most important findings: The results are consistent. The majority of people in Europe stand by Ukraine, even those who are very even those who are rather anxious about the future. Support is declining only slightly as the war progresses; not even rising energy prices and inflation are causing people to waver. And the European majority in favor of arms deliveries stands. 

Strong Backing of Europeans

In this interview, Isabell Hoffmann interprets the figures from four polls on the war in Ukraine. In our podcast "Shaping the Future," she also classifies the strong support of Europeans and explains what it means for future politics. Most recently, she presented the numbers in high-profile rounds at the Munich Security Conference.  

Miriam Kosmehl, our Eastern Europe expert, has lived in Russia and Ukraine for several years. She is a sought-after interview partner when it comes to explaining the current situation and pointing out perspectives and fields of action. In an interview on the anniversary of the start of the war, she explains why further arms deliveries are necessary and that the constant threat will not stop even if Ukraine wins the war. In a blog post on the anniversary of the attack, our Eastern Europe expert also explains why supporting Ukraine is the best way to return to a stable European peace order. The West is supporting Ukraine, supplying weapons, and holding out the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU. Russia, on the other hand, is hoping for even more substantial support from China. Kosmehl also classifies, how  Chinese President Xi’s visit to Moscow is to be assessed, and what risks the relationship with China poses for Russian President Putin.  

The relationship with the United States

Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, our expert on transatlantic relations, also puts an emphasis on Europe's, especially Germany's, relationship with the United States in the Bertelsmann Stiftung podcast. Has the Russian attack made the European community stronger? What might a future world order look like? The policy expert, who has deep roots in both the United States and Germany, explains. And her colleague Mark Fischer, an expert on transatlantic relations, critically assesses what has changed since Chancellor Olaf Scholz coined the new term "turning point." What position can Germany take in a new security order? Is the U.S. the best reinsurance? How does the world view the actions of the Federal Republic? Mark Fischer answers these questions in his blog post on the blog post on the "Zeitenwende"