Hannah Neumann – a pragmatic idealist

Hannah Neumann is a member of the European Parliament as part of the Green/EFA group.

AfD and Pegida are part of the reason why Hannah Neumann sits in the EU Parliament today. In 2016, Neumann, who holds a Ph.D. in peace and conflict studies, was so shocked by the rise of the far-right in Germany, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump that she decided to get involved in politics. She started as district chair for the Green Party in Berlin-Lichtenberg.

“As someone who has spent a lot of time in war zones, I have seen how quickly hatred turns into violence, which then escalates and tears a society apart,” says the 38-year-old from Rhineland-Palatinate. She at least wanted to be able to say that she had done something about it if things really went wrong in Europe. Before entering politics, Hannah Neumann worked as a conflict and peace researcher at the Free University of Berlin, where she examined how peace agreements are implemented at the local level. For this, she traveled primarily to the Philippines and Liberia.

The path into politics proved to be the right one. In 2019, the Green Party invited her to run for the EU Parliament. “And that worked out amazingly well.”

Arms deliveries to Ukraine are green policy

In Brussels and Strasbourg, she remains interested in foreign policy. She chairs the delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula and serves in several subcommittees, such as human rights or security and defense. This year alone, she traveled on behalf of the European Parliament to Iraq, Qatar, Afghanistan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Colombia.

But with the Russian war in Ukraine, there is also enough for a foreign policy-minded MP to do in Europe. Like many left-leaning politicians, she has adopted positions in recent months that are normally considered unacceptable. Neumann, on the other hand, is pragmatic. “On the arms deliveries to Ukraine, it was clear to me from the beginning that in this situation, frankly, it’s pretty ‘green’ to deliver weapons.” Only if international law is respected can disarmament be discussed, she said.

Increasing military spending in state budgets must be painful for a Green, right? “I think everyone would rather spend the money on climate protection than on the military,” she sighs. Unfortunately, the situation is what it is, she says.

Commitment to women in foreign policy

Once again pragmatic, Neumann is now campaigning for joint procurement of armaments in Europe. However, she says, care must be taken to ensure that the arms companies do not profit unnecessarily from this. “We have to make sure that we get a lot of weapons for the money,” she says. The issue will be a priority in the coming months.

“These are difficult policy questions, but I certainly didn’t get into politics to represent holier-than-thou green positions.” The point was to make the best possible decisions.

The pragmatist also takes time for her ideals. She often talks about the underrepresentation of women in the male-dominated world of foreign policy. In Brussels, Neumann says, it took a while for people to listen to her. That’s why she participates in “SHEcurity.” The index highlights gender inequalities and gathers data on politics, diplomacy, the military, police, civilian and military missions, and the economy. The goal is simple: “More women in foreign and security policy.” Ella Joyner

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