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Bittner, Jochen

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5 articles of this author have been cited in the European Press Review so far.

Die Zeit - Germany | 05/06/2014

European elections: British should remain sceptics in the EU

Even if Britain's opposition to the EU can be annoying, grumblers like Prime Minister David Cameron in fact play a positive role in advancing the common project, the liberal weekly paper Die Zeit writes commenting on the power struggle over the post of European Commission president: "It's true that Cameron's opposition to Juncker is pretty cheeky. After all, the promise before the European elections was that the winner would head the Commission in Brussels. This argument of principle must be respected. It must be said, however, that this is the only argument in Juncker's favour. … If there's one thing Europe doesn't need, it's defenders of integration and an 'ever closer Union' who spend their time giving each other Charlemagne Prizes. And Juncker personifies precisely this type of politician. As so often in the EU, the problem with this European election was that no one raised objections early enough - when the candidates were still being chosen, that is. David Cameron now has the cheek to point to such shortcomings - but too late, it has to be said."

Zeit Online - Germany | 01/02/2013

Foreign missions: Germany must take a stance

Germany is currently contributing three transport aircraft to the French-African intervention in Mali and plans to gradually increase its military assistance in the coming weeks. The website of the liberal weekly Die Zeit calls on Germany to take a clear stance for or against foreign missions: "There is certainly reason to be worried about the Mali intervention spreading. ... But those who are paralysed by concerns, those who aren't willing to accept the challenge of dealing with uncertainty in military missions should say so candidly and refrain from all foreign missions. This is possible. Neutral Switzerland is doing it. Liechtenstein completely disbanded its army in 1868. [But] Germany is not the Switzerland of the EU. It is Europe's 'indispensable nation', as the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski recently put it. His former French counterpart Hubert Védrine asks almost in despair why Germany still resists the idea of playing a fitting role 'in other areas' than the rescue of the euro."

Die Zeit - Germany | 29/07/2010

Jochen Bittner and Jörg Lau question German economic nationalism

During the euro crisis France and the US were among the countries that accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of favouring German interests. Jochen Bittner and Jörg Lau write in the liberal weekly Die Zeit that there is nothing new in this attitude on Germany's part: "Would Helmut Kohl really have acted any differently today than Angela Merkel? Would he too not have demanded that the Eurozone be bolstered through regulation? ... Gerhard Schröder was particularly prone to digging in his heels when push came to shove with Europe. In 1999 he put a damper on Brussels' attempt to issue a guideline obliging car manufacturers to take back old cars, for this would have cost VW & co. billions. And fearing that Polish plumbers and Bulgarian nurses would immigrate en masse to the German welfare state, Schröder insisted on delaying the freedom of movement for Europe's new populations after the EU eastward expansions of 2004 and 2007. So let's not say putting German interests first started with Merkel. On the contrary, after Schröder's machismo the chancellor was at first considered someone who would once more show respect even to smaller neighbouring states. ... Now her image has changed."

Blog planet in progress - Germany | 03/02/2010

Europe's many voices scare off Obama

According to Jochen Bittner in the Planet in Progress blog, US President Barack Obama is not attending the EU-USA summit because of the continued lack of concurrence in Europe: "We've seen that the Lisbon Treaty has not kept one of its central promises. Europe continues to speak to the world not with one voice but with an entire chorus. The two senior offices that ought to change this, the permanent council president and the 'EU foreign minister' have not combined Europe's foreign-policy authority as was expected. ... Quite apart from the quarrels in Brussels, Obama's decision is understandable. Europe is not half as important as it thinks it is in the eyes of the American administration. Why should it be? The real opportunities and risks in world politics lie elsewhere. In China, in Afghanistan, in India and Latin America. ... For the Lisbon EU, the most painful insight into its role in the world may still lie ahead. Just imagine: Europe speaks with one voice and nobody listens."

Die Zeit - Germany | 07/12/2007

The EU and the independence of Kosovo

"Two things appear to be unthinkable for Brussels: leaving a problem child on Europe's doorstep [like Kosovo] to its own devices and - more importantly - not letting it into the house of Europe in the long term," Jochen Bittner and Andrea Böhm explain. At the same time they make the following criticism: "No one in Brussels is willing to bet on how long it will take to make Kosovo a member of the European club. Nonetheless, EU diplomats are convinced that the only way to solve the Balkan problem is to gather all the countries of former Yugoslavia under one roof - or in other words, their integration into Europe. Such ambitions not only represent a huge challenge for the expansion-weary Union, they are also a provocation for its disgruntled neighbour, Russia. From Moscow's point of view the EU's efforts in the Balkans are an arrogant invasion of Russia's traditional zones of influence. Therefore it's very possible that a frozen conflict between Europe and Russia will crystallise in Kosovo."

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