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#EP2019: Interview with Delara Burkhardt, Candidate for the German Social Democrats in the EU-Elections


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!

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