Delara Burkhardt wants to breathe new life into the European Union. Since 2015, she is deputy chairwoman of the Young Socialists in Germany (Jusos), now running for the European Parliament as one of the SPD’s youngest candidates. Delara Burkhardt is 26 years old and based in Kiel in Schleswig-Holstein.
Where does your interest in politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation?
My generation grew up in a united Europe. It seemed like it goes without saying that the European Union would coalesce evermore, but today we see that the EU is at stake in light of the uprising of nationalists. However, the challenges we are facing need to be tackled cooperatively. We have to join forces to stop the climate change. We need a European strategy to secure a humane migration policy. We have to work together to end tax evasion and to give Europe a social vision. This is how I got involved in politics. If there is the urge of a change, we cannot stop at analyzing and criticizing a development: We need to take responsibility to make our voices heard. This is especially true for young people! Therefore, I think it is very powerful that so many students take the streets every Friday. They show that the youth is political and expects the politicians to take action against things that go wrong today. On the other hand, we need those young people not only in front of parliaments, but inside them! I want to bring young perspectives into the European Parliament in order to make my generation heard!
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?
With my candidature I take a stand for a young, open, fair and sustainable Europe. Being 26 years old, I want to bring a young perspective to Brussels and to be the voice for the young people. I want to ensure minimum salaries for apprentices, more money for youth exchanges and better ways for participation in the political decisions for young people.
Our generation is certainly not the first generation that talks about climate change, but it is our generation, which now needs to put enough pressure on decision-makers in order to be able to stop the climate crisis. If we don’t do this, who knows how many generations are even able to live on this planet after us? I want to combat climate change in a way that is socially responsible. I fight for ambitious goals regarding climate policy to turn Europe into a forerunner for climate protection. In concrete terms, I want to raise the goal of climate control up to a minimum of 45% of greenhouse gas savings until 2030, in order to achieve the goal of neutrality of greenhouse gas until 2050.
What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in the upcoming elections?
Climate change is such an important issue that affects many different areas of life. However, I want to emphasize a few examples of action that I want to promote in the European Parliament to tackle the climate crisis. I think it is necessary to provide more research funding for carbon neutrality. Promoting innovations can help us in transforming our economy towards a sustainable and climate-neutral one.
Furthermore, the system of transport needs to be overthought: I want to support public transport services and railway services. Going by train is ecofriendly, but to make it really an option for all, these services need to be improved. That means it must be affordable to use public transport and you need good connections in order to make it comparable to the comfort of using your own car every day. Talking about cars, I want to push on with new sustainable propulsion technology. This is in area which could have been so much more ahead from where it is today: instead of scandals of car companies, in the future I want to read about cutting-edge strategies of reducing emissions in the newspaper.
Additionally, I espouse the introduction of a price on CO2. This would be a grave step in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
However, we need to keep in mind the social effects of such policies. Therefore, it is a necessary to complement a strategy against climate change with a fund for transition. This fund could offset people that work in sectors which will fundamentally change on the way towards a sustainable economy. In doing so we are able to combine to set the bar high on climate objectives and protect people from unemployment and a lack of perspective at the same time.
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election?
The most important thing: go and cast your vote! The highest rates of participation in the European Elections are having the voters older than 60 years. Would you let your parents and grandparents alone decide over your future? So, don’t let them decide alone about the future of Europe neither. I think the European Elections are a great opportunity for young people to learn about the different ideas that exist about the future of Europe. There is not only the contrast between the parties who want Europe and the ones that don’t. There are also many differences within these positions. Does Europe mean a common market, or should it maybe also promote the rights of workers? Should the EU put its money into border security, or should it invest in a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea? Thinking about such questions and maybe engage in conversation with friends and family about them can be an enriching experience.
In your opinion, is giving a vote enough?
Young people all over the world show us every week that political involvement can have many different faces, not only the face of going to the polls every four or five years. I think it is important to emphasize that there is not one answer to this question which is true for all. There are many ways to make your voice heard: like protesting in the streets, joining a party, or a million other ways to express your convictions. However, taking part in an election might be the most important one when you are living in a democracy. So why not use May 23rd to 26th as a starting shot to get politically involved?
Thank you for the interview!