On 14 March 2019, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) organised the panel discussion “HUMAN RIGHTS TALK: ‘Under construction’: How does the EU grow and develop with the help of the instrument ‘Twinning’ as an area of freedom, security and justice?”. The event was hosted by the Representation of the European Union in Vienna.
In a period of deep scepticism and uncertainty about further EU enlargement, the gathering was a unique chance to highlight significant successes achieved under the Twinning instrument created 20 years ago. Economic difficulties, as well as social and political developments pose new challenges to the EU agenda, leading to the controversial question: is the project still to be saved?
Although the answer remains open to personal interpretation, the panel discussion showed the undeniable merits of Twinning as a unifying instrument between EU member states and enlargement candidates in a wide range of areas including human rights, the rule of law and democratization.
The participants were welcomed by Wolfgang Bogensberger, Head of Political Reporting at the Representation of the European Commission in Austria, and Susanne Fraczek, Head of the European Neighbourhood and Integration Policy Department at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights. The introductory speech by Mr Bogensberger on the Twinning instrument and rule of law was followed by a presentation by Hannes Tretter, Co-Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, on 15 years of BIM Twinning experience. The event was also a good opportunity to thank the eminent scholar for his admirable, constant commitment to the promotion of human rights, in view of the upcoming change in the scientific management of the institute.
During the second part of the event, Twinning experts participated in a storytelling talk moderated by Irene Brickner (Der Standard). Panelists were Karl-Heinz Grundböck, Speaker of the Austrian Parliamentary Administration; Claudia Hüttner, Twinning project manager from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights; Waltraut Kotschy, Data protection expert; Barbara Liegl, Anti-discrimination expert from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights; and Dieter Schindlauer, CEO of ZARA - Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismusarbeit. The panelists have all been involved in various Twinning projects in different positions and took the chance to share their own experiences with the audience. They gave insight into their personal approaches to the topic and highlighted the connection between the political will to reform and the implementation of projects on the ground. In this way, the discussion developed into an inspiring journey across countries, cultures, difficulties and successes.
In a moment of uncertainty and unpredictable future, the event worked as a reminder of EU values and strengths. While new barriers seem to develop, efforts to preserve and nurture cooperation between states can function as a powerful instrument to fight people´s scepticism - all the more, by highlighting the pertinent effects on the promotion of their rights and access to justice.
The invitation of the event can be accessed in the download section of this article.