European Union politics have an immediate impact on the daily life of the citizens in Member States. However, most citizens are not aware of the high relevance of the decisions taken in Brussels and Strasbourg. Sometimes a distorted perception of the European institutions obstructs the view on the great opportunities that arise from the integration process in the European Union.
The state government of Schleswig-Holstein has recognised this potential, and is using it profitably for the region. Below you will find some outstanding examples of this.
As the northernmost state, situated between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as well as bordering Denmark, cross-border activities play a particularly important role for Schleswig-Holstein. They link the state with European developments. Schleswig-Holstein especially benefits
- from open borders allowing its citizens not only to travel without bureaucratic burdens, but also to live in one country and work in the other;
- from European consumer protection safeguarding against unpleasant surprises in cross-border shopping;
- from the European Common Market, which is an important requirement for economic growth, employment and thus prosperity.
These examples show the close correlation currently existing between Schleswig-Holstein and European politics. This motivates the state government to conduct proactive European policy.
Through European and state funds, regions and future-oriented sectors are being developed: technology transfer, health economy and ocean technology are just some of the key words in this area, as is e.g. the support of the energy transition and modern employment policy in Schleswig-Holstein. Even though the contribution of agriculture to the gross national product of the state is no longer at the forefront, the European agricultural policy remains decisive for Schleswig-Holstein’s rural development.
The 21 “AktivRegionen” (active regions) of the state make Europe more tangible. They are the think tanks of the rural areas, organised as associations, to make rural regions attractive and future-proof. How much EU funding is used for which project is determined by the local people themselves. The “AktivRegionen” are offered a wide range of funding programmes for the implementation of their projects. Paramount is the programme for the future of rural areas.
Schleswig-Holstein is the German focal point for the growing traffic flow linking Scandinavia and North East Europe with the heart of the continent. The expansion of ferry connections, fixed crossings and “Motorways of the Sea” across the North Sea and Baltic as part of the trans-European networks, the optimisation of port services, direct links between the Baltic ports and Hamburg and the improvement of the hinterland connections are all concerns of both European and state transport policy. Other political interfaces between Europe and the state are the commitment of Schleswig-Holstein to wind power, environmental policy and integrated coastal zone management as well as the pursuit of a European maritime policy, especially with regard to ship safety.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Schleswig-Holstein has contributed substantially to the revitalisation of the Baltic Sea cooperation and to the EU enlargement to the East and North at regional level. The state is an active member of several networks and partnerships across the region, in particular the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
For more than two decades, the European Union has been promoting transnational projects within the framework of INTERREG, which contributes to the reduction of economic, social and spatial disparities in Europe. INTERREG-projects offer opportunities for European regions to address current issues and challenges– that increasingly do not stop at national borders – and to develop and implement strategies together. The INTERREG funding programmes are thus key instruments to achieve the state government’s goals in view of the North Sea and Baltic Sea cooperation, and in particular for the further advancement of cross-border cooperation with Denmark. In the funding period 2014-2020 Schleswig-Holstein participated in a total of four of these programmes: the INTERREG A programme for cross border cooperation with Denmark, two transnational INTERREG B programmes for the North Sea and Baltic Region and the continent-wide Europe-programme.
The state government has decided to set-up an interministerial working group (IMAG) on EU-Funds, which is managed by the Department for Europe at the Ministry of Justice, Europe and Consumer Protection (MJEV – Ministerium für Justiz, Europa und Verbraucherschutz). The administrative authorities of the EU-funds ERDF, EAFRD, EMFAF and ESF as well as the INTERREG programmes are represented. It is responsible to coordinate the preparations for the EU-funding period 2021-2027.
European policy has an impact on the entire public. The MJEV supports the public relations work on European policy, e.g. various events drawing citizens close to European political topics. A regular yearly event is e.g. the Europawoche, at which different stakeholders plan a variety of activities reflecting and strengthening the European idea.
Other formats were the European voting campaign in 2019 under the motto “Our life, our society, our impact” (Unser Leben, unsere Gesellschaft, unser Einfluss) with the participation of Schleswig-Holstein’s state government and famous personalities from Schleswig-Holstein, who jointly advocated a higher voter turnout for the European elections.
A reading with writer Feridun Zaimoglu and a subsequent panel discussion gave the public an opportunity to learn about current issues in the European Union. During a poetry slam with the title “My Europe, Your Europe” (Mein Europa, Dein Europa) both slammers and the public could grapple with the topic European Union.