The Europe of cities

Rüdiger Kruse

Rüdiger Kruse (Photo: © Markus Renner)
The Europe of cities; wasn’t that the Hanseatic League?
And what was the Hanseatic League?
— An alliance of convenience.

It remained active and successful for as long as it was useful for the individual cities. Today, the Hanseatic League is folklore. And yet its tale is still useful; it sets the individual Hanseatic cities apart from others, ennobles their residents as Hanseatic citizens and provides a comforting legend. Moreover, being a dead institution, it demands nothing, nor does it cost anything.

This is completely different with the EU. The EU exists in the present and is not some quaint tale. It has to be financed and given meaning.

I can unify Europe against enemies or for benefits. Externally, Putin, Trump and Erdogan contribute significantly to a pro-European position — albeit unintentionally — as do UKIP, Le Pen and Wilders internally. Chinese hegemonial ambitions also provide further impetus towards a coalescence of European states. These are at least the external factors.

What about the benefits resulting from Europe itself?

What are the arguments for a Europe of cities, as proposed by Volker Hassemer:

Opinions are formed in the cities.
Connections between countries are connections between cities.
Cities face similar challenges, regardless of the respective nation. For instance, integration succeeds or fails in cities.

A Europe of cities — why don’t we have it:

Because it lacks tangible benefits. How can Barcelona benefit from Hamburg? Berlin from Rome? And how can Paris benefit from London when it is leaving in any case? It’s all about added value. How does Europe serve whom? What advantages does Europe offer citizens, cities and countries?

In light of the global situation currently, a common European defence policy will enjoy very high approval. No country is able to defend itself alone. Likewise, many military operations can only succeed together. European infrastructure is another worthwhile, comprehensible area — particularly European energy infrastructure. How much simpler and more successful would it be, if the possibilities of the energy revolution could be utilised from Scandinavia to southern Europe. Other areas with a huge amount of potential include research and development — but specific, ambitious goals are required here: a European alternative to Facebook, Alphabet and Apple. A research infrastructure that creates the necessary trust with secure servers in Europe, protected by European data security. This would enable the wealth of data to serve the interests of people, such as in the medical sector. Common economic law would particularly help small and medium-sized companies to be active across Europe.

The EU should concentrate on a few important tasks and pursue the principle of subsidiarity: everything that can be governed by communities or countries themselves, without differences between regional regulations impeding or endangering the overall system, should be determined by these levels.

This also brings cities back into play, since the implementation of these ambitious goals offers tangible benefits for city life. This development also requires places in which it can be put into practice. But Europe will not be a Europe of cities or of nations; it will have to be a Europe of citizens if it is to enjoy a future.

Rüdiger Kruse (@RuedigerKruse)


Rüdiger Kruse is the rapporteur for culture and media in the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag and a member of the Audit Committee. He is the Commissioner for the maritime economy of the CDU / CSU Group in the German Bundestag. He is a substitute member of the Committee on Economic and Energy Affairs and the Committee on the Environment, Building and Nuclear Safety. Rüdiger Kruse is a member of the Art Council and the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development. Rüdiger Kruse has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2009. Prior to that, he had been a member of the Hamburger Bürgerschaft (Hamburg’s Regional Parliament) since 2001.