‘Es gibt nog etwas zu tun’
On 18 and 19 October the presidium gathered in Berlin at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU): Konrad Adenauerhaus.
‘Viel haben wir erreicht, aber es gibt noch viel zu tun’. That was the spirit of the speeches on the event of the celebration of the unification of Germany; 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It applies to Germany but most certainly it also applies to Europe.
Because of the very special role that Berlin played for the unification of Europe, we gratefully accepted the proposal of Dr. Bernhard Worms to meet at the start of a new ESU working term in Berlin. 18-19 October became a multifunctional meeting: a Presidium meeting, discussions, presentations, mutual learning and exchanges and all this together with a delegation of the Senioren-Union of the CDU in the heart of Berlin.
Presidium meeting – Friday
On Friday we had the first meeting of the new elected ESU-presidium, together with the outgoing members. One of the important points that were discussed is the proposal to organise an additional congress to revise the Statutes and Rules of Procedure of the ESU. Organising this kind of congress more frequent than just every three years allows us to look at the articles of our association more closely.
Another notable issue was the announcement of our Senior International’s editor, Ulrich Winz. During the previous years Ulrich did a great job editing Senior International and providing a column in ‘Souverän’. But Ulrich announced that he would stop writing the bulletin and also the column. He proposes to ‘rethink’ our communication system and he is willing to cooperate. We thank him enormously for his work; it was an added value to be able to count on his reports at all times.
Together, the members of the presidium were looking at how they can share more tasks, so that the development of the ESU is a real ‘common commitment’ of all vice-presidents.
Joint meeting- Friday
After our presidium meeting we held a joint meeting of the ESU Presidium and the Executive Board of Senioren-Union CDU. During the introduction speech, our president Prof Dr. An Hermans thanked the CDU for the support in the run-up to this meeting.
Claus Bernhold, Vice President of CDU Senioren-Union, took the floor and welcomed the ESU presidium. In this speech, he elaborated on the importance of the European Project: “The ‘human element’ returns to politics and Europe has a very important role to play in this. ‘People’ are extremely important in politics. Thanks to the courage of the founding fathers of the EU project, we stand where we stand and we cannot take this for granted.”
During the meeting a video of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the CDU was showed; she recorded tis video message for our meeting.
The following interesting speaker was, Jan-Peter Luther, National Secretary of the CDU Senioren-Union. The CDU has put together objectives to hear the interests of senior citizens: “It can be a compass that gives opportunities” Luther stated. This initiative started in 2016. In doing so, the party excludes all age discrimination and tries to answer seniors’ concerns, for example, they ask for a flexible ‘route to retire’.
“European integration brought people together, it is our goal for today and tomorrow. Digitalisation and housing are important challenges for the future, new technologies must be explained and no one can be left behind! Needs and questions concerning housing are important for the elderly, people should be able to stay independent for as long as possible. There are many principles on eight pages: This was a challenge, but we know what we stand for! We can use this document to shape the future of our own party. We want to strengthen this by having active elderly people in our party!”
Please find the Grundsätze der Senioren-Union der CDU Deutschlands here.
Discussion on ’Participation in the EU’ – Saturday
On Saturday we had a discussion on a quote of Ursula von der Leyen: “We need to improve participation in our democracy. We need to ensure that people can make their voice heard and are listened to”
How to respond to this need? By Governments, by political parties, by civil society? Which are the challenges for the coming years? What answers does Christian democracy have to populism and extremism? During this discussion we could count on Prof Dr. Steven Van Hecke for the introduction & moderation of the debate. Many thanks to our experienced speakers:
– Bertil Wenger, Office Manager for Foreign Relations CDU
– Heinz K. Becker, former MEP, Vice President of ESU
Prof Van Hecke brought a very appreciated synopsis of today’s challenges and problems. He pictured the how recently citizens’ interest and need for Europe is growing, but on the other hand trough a multitude of factors the political space is open for populism and extremism. Both speakers explored the role of people’s parties, with special attention to Germany and Austria, and argued that we have to continue also in our associations to communicate with our fellow citizens and… that only transparency and good governance can convince people that Europe protects and cares for its people. In lively discussions participants brought in their own vision and concluded that the Sandanski Declaration is ‘a compass’ for the years to come. And… that a lot of work still has to be done.