Anyone who reads or listens to interviews with Sophie Pornschlegel discovers a European with a mission: “German taxpayers are helping to finance an autocracy like Hungary.” That is the kind of sentence she says. The EU? Lets itself be blackmailed. It warns of an emerging mob rule in Europe. And persistently repeats its messages in the media.
Pornschlegel works in Brussels as a Senior Policy Analyst for the independent think tank European Policy Centre (EPC). There, she leads the Connecting Europe project with the Mercator Foundation. She analyzes Europe’s problems and proposes solutions – in articles, interviews and at events. “I don’t do this because I think the EU is simply great, but because it makes decisions that affect everyone and should therefore be discussed much more,” says Pornschlegel.
Lacking EU expertise in the media
Europe’s open borders shape the 32-year-old’s life. Her mother is French, her father German. She gained professional experience in France, England, Germany and Belgium.
She feels that Europe’s media mostly report on the EU from a national perspective. All that matters, she says, is whether one’s own country has achieved its goals, whether it has emerged as the winner from a power struggle. Many journalists lack the necessary EU expertise, the perspective that transcends national borders, to correctly classify European decisions, says Pornschlegel. “Unfortunately they often don’t understand the EU’s complex set of rules or forget to report on important decisions.”
Therefore, politicians repeatedly blame the EU Commission for grievances, even though the responsibility lies elsewhere. Not only euroskeptics like Viktor Orbán take advantage of this, but also parties that are actually pro-European. In this way, everyone harms the EU – often unintentionally.
Franco-German cooperation falters
The Franco-German is examining relations between Berlin and Paris particularly closely. Currently, the rifts seem deeper than ever. Pornschlegel notes that both countries pursue their political goals without looking at their partners.
The German government passed its 200-billion aid package against rising gas and electricity prices without notifying its closest partner. France, in turn, is planning a new pipeline with Spain and Portugal – without involving Germany. “We don’t have time for such nationalistic pettiness,” Pornschlegel says, “given the magnitude of the crises.”
What she misses from Chancellor Olaf Scholz is the political will for a good partnership. “Scholz ignores the importance of Franco-German cooperation.” In her analyses, Pornschlegel proposes a concrete, strategic roadmap to revive the Franco-German axis. For example, the two countries should clarify exactly when they will invest in EU projects. She does not want to just complain and put her finger in the wound – she wants to help. Tomas Cabanis