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#EP2019: Interview with Moritz Körner, Candidate for the German Liberals (FDP) in the EU-Elections

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!

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