Europe and North America - European and International Cooperation
Our focus in Europe
The work of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s international offices in Europe is of particular importance. Our central concern is to strengthen and deepen European cooperation while at the same time stabilising bilateral links between the individual member states. In the face of the major challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current focus, alongside economic and social recovery and a lasting resolution of the crisis, is on making the European Union as a whole stronger, fairer and more sustainable. In addition to global challenges such as climate change and increasing competition between systems, the focus is on digitalisation and innovation to strengthen Europe’s ability to act both internally and externally.
Party-political cooperation thereby is a particularly well-established tradition in Western Europe and an important instrument for KAS to promote the bilateral dialogue between the member states. However, changes to the party-political landscape across Europe is also putting established partnerships under increasing strain. In Southern Europe - among others due to the coronavirus pandemic - the image of Europe has recently become tarnished to some extent. Southern Europe has at times felt inadequately supported by its European partners in the three major crises - the coronavirus pandemic, the financial and the migration crises. In the coronavirus crisis, criticism of and dissatisfaction with the EU have now reached a new peak and are unfortunately beginning to manifest in fundamentally pro-European circles. It is this trend that the KAS international offices are seeking to counteract with their measures.
In view of the generally worrying increase in populist and nationalist stances in many countries of the EU, particularly in Southern and Eastern Central Europe, KAS’s measures continue to focus on supporting partner organisations in politics and civil society to strengthen their influence on policy-making and their role in the democratic system.
At the heart of the debate and the work of the KAS offices in Eastern Central Europe are the issues of security and defence policy alongside the current state and future of European integration. Here, it is the task and goal of KAS to restate the common European positions with greater vigour. Another focus is on cooperation with relevant state and civil society actors as they continue to come to terms with their communist past. In general, polarisation of the political landscape can also be observed in the region. For KAS, therefore, a particularly crucial task is to strengthen civil society as an important long-term stabiliser for relations.
Overall, the East-West divide between the old member states of the European Union in Western Europe and the new member states in Central and Eastern Europe has widened in recent years. These fractures are manifesting again and again in discussions about the rule of law, the independence of state institutions and the role of national identities, nations, patriotism and nationalism.
KAS also continues with high-profile events to work towards the rapprochement of the non-member states of the Western Balkans with the European Union, in South-Eastern Europe as well as in Brussels and Berlin, and to support regional cooperation within the framework of the Berlin Process initiated by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The interplay - and, in many cases, tension - between loyalty to values and interest-driven politics fundamentally shape the engagement in the Western Balkans, especially in the context of party-political cooperation.
In Eastern Europe, in view of Russia’s tense relations with the “West” and parts of its immediate neighbourhood, the focus continues to be on the geopolitical situation, as well as on the far-reaching and yet partially stalled political, economic and social transformation processes in the states involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership. The work of KAS in Eastern Europe therefore focuses on supporting the establishment of democracy and the rule of law as well as social and economic development, while at the same time promoting rapprochement with the EU within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and dialogue on regional security policy issues.
Our focus in North America
Under the US administration of former President Donald Trump, the perspective of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s transatlantic work experienced a shift. In this occasionally unorthodox US administration, the viewpoints of Germany or the EU were not always well perceived. The discourses on reinforcing a common European position and focusing on Europe’s capacity to act gained momentum as a result. With regard to the new US administration under the 46th President Joe Biden, it remains important to advocate shared positions to find stronger common ground on key issues of the transatlantic relationship. While some basic strategic directions of the Trump administration are likely to remain, the return of the US to multilateral agreements is expected. With regard to NATO, the European partners should be prepared to be called upon to make more efforts within the framework of the defence alliance. The KAS office in the US is therefore engaging in matters of shared interest with Europe, such as trade, climate and security policy.
With five offices in Europe and North America, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is working on multilateral issues of concern to the international institutions and organisations located there. From the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Foundation’s office is working to strengthen the multilateral order and to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The office there is also concerned with the issues of peace and security, the implementation of Agenda2030 and with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital technologies in the field of digital governance. From its Geneva office, the Foundation has been involved in the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) since long before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, where its contributions include reporting, background discussions, informative events and publications. Other focal points include the issues of world trade, refugee movements and migration, human rights, humanitarian aid and digitalisation. The Washington D.C. office monitors the work of the World Bank Group. From its Brussels office, the Multinational Development Policy Dialogue of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung concerns itself with the external dimension of the work of the European Union. From its base in Vienna, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung deals, among other things, with issues of arms control and peacekeeping.