Moritz Körner, 28 years old, member of state parliament in Nordrhein-Westfalen is the top candidate of the FDP NRW for the European elections and number 4 on the federal list of the FDP. Moritz Körner wants to give the younger generation a voice. He fights for education without borders, strengthening research and innovation on the European level and for European cooperation in the field of safety
You have been engaged in national politics for a lot of years now. Where does your interest in politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation?
Moritz Körner: At the age of seventeen I started to get interested in political parties, because I was soon allowed to vote. I’ve always been closely connected to liberal ideas, therefore I started to inform myself about FDP, the liberal party in Germany. I was fascinated by a speech of Johannes Vogel, who was the leader of the youth party called Junge Liberale (young liberals). His speech was the trigger for me to become a member of the Free Democratic Party and Junge Liberale. As of today 70% of the laws that are passed in the member states of the European Union are laws that are made by the European Parliament and have to be implemented in the member states. Thus taking part in the law making of the European parliament that represents 500 million is a very impactful work with the opportunity to affect the life of lots of people in a positive way.
How does your candidature relate to climate change and youth? What are your concrete plans to bring the European Union on a path towards more climate action and reaching the aims of the Paris Agreement?
Moritz Körner: Climate change is one of the most striking challenges that mankind faces in the 21st century. Maybe more than ever in the history of mankind, our actions influence the well-being of the current generations and all generations that will follow. The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement are important steps towards a global climate policy and must be adhered to. And climate change does not stop at national borders. It is a global issue which requires global solutions. Europe as a unique union of states can serve as a nucleus to lead the world’s development of sustainable and green technologies. By developing the most efficient and modern technologies that reduce CO2 and other emissions, we can convince other countries in the world to follow our European way of climate protection and act on a global scale. To set incentives for companies to develop new technologies, we want to apply the European Emission Trading System to all areas of the economy. In this way, a price is paid for emitting CO2 and companies have to develop more efficient solutions. Furthermore, we want to increase spendings for research programs in climate technology.
What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in the upcoming elections?
Moritz Körner: Currently the most important topic is how to reduce our carbon emissions. It was again brought to heavy public attention by the Fridays for Future movement. Now it’s our task to discuss how to reduce carbon emissions even more. One of the first areas discussed to cut emissions is always transport and car traffic. In Germany there is a great effort on transforming the traffic from mostly fuel based cars to cars that run on electricity. This is mostly done by subsidizing this technology. In my opinion subsidizing and focusing on a specific technology is the wrong way. We need to stay open to other solutions (e.g. fuel cell cars) that could be better to cut emissions. Since politicians are not engineers and scientists, they should leave the technological decisions to those and only provide the framework that incentivizes them to act upon the goal of climate action. As system to do this, the previously mentioned European Emission Trading System (EU ETS), is a powerful tool. An extension of the EU ETS, which is already well functioning in the energy sector, to the mobility/ transport sectors and, in the long run, to forestry and agriculture would be a necessary first step. Europe could play a pioneering role in implementing a full Emission Trading System that contains all spaces where emissions are incurred. This would serve the purpose to find a fair and functioning solution to reduce CO2-Emissions in the long run by setting the right incentives, without using economically damaging restrictions.
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election?
Moritz Körner: Looking to Great Britain, the first and most important thing is to show up and vote pro-european, if you are convinced that our future lies in more Europe rather than less Europe. This election is truly a crossroad for the European Union and for the young people’s daily lives too. The first time since the founding of the Union there could be more Anti-European forces in the parliament than true believers of the cause of the union. So for the first time previously achieved steps of European Integration are at stake. Eating fries in Belgium, travel to the sunny beaches in Spain or visiting museums in Italy are all things that are quite normal for my generation. We only know a Europe with open borders for persons as well as for goods. But these achievements are in danger right now. National movements and parties, which wish to return to the 20th century, are gaining power all around Europe and threaten our open society. Showing up on election day is far better than regretting that anti-european forces took over your country.
In your opinion, is giving a vote enough?
Moritz Körner: Giving a vote is the first step. Thinking about it, it is a big privilege that we are able to participate in free elections as one of the only regions in the world. But we have even more privileges! We can participate in parties, work on their political agenda and bring it all the way up into the parliaments. It’s hard work but it’s eventually worth it. But joining a party is not the only thing you can do. Every young woman and man that is working unsalaried in their local community or in associations in their spare time is providing an irreplaceable contribution to society, even though it is on a small scale, it makes a big difference for our daily lives. From this perspective I believe that the European democracy requires dedicated and passionate citizens, which feel closely connected not only to their nation of birth but also to the idea of a European community.
Thank you for the interview!