Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff at PostGlobal

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. He overseas the fund's policy programs. He was previously the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly, Die Zeit. Close.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. more »

Main Page | Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff Archives | PostGlobal Archives


« Previous Post | Next Post »

My Boundless, Borderless Generation Europe

Can one have complaints about Europe, the soft giant? The continent of grandiose political ambitions and moderate means? This is the continent that provides teenagers the “Eurorail Pass” and two dozen countries to discover. Boundless and borderless train-riding and hitchhiking and backpacking, that’s Europe to many today.

Let me tell you about my Europe. When I was in college the Rhine was still a border. The checkpoint on the bridge was not threatening, but still an annoyance. When I was out of college in the late ‘80s, a friend tried something completely new: he wanted to know what European property rights could do for him, so he bought a house on the other side of the bridge. Houses were less expensive in France. What a sensation! How would the French react to an invasion of German homeowners? Previously, only German tanks had invaded France.

The late 1980s seem like a century ago. Today the French love German homeowners on their territory; their housing prices appreciate faster. Borders are a distant memory, and their absence has changed lives – mine included. These days, many of my friends in Germany belong to bi-national couples. Companies try to recruit multinational and trans-European workforces. They call us “Generation Erasmus” after a popular intra-European student exchange program. The next generation will not even need exchange programs. Europe and its political union will be their home, as if it has always been that way.

The EU can mean many things to many people. To me it means freedom and opportunity, and a feeling of acceptance. Not of small value for a child of postwar Germany. The EU makes German power acceptable to its neighbors. It allows the French to lead. It helped overcome authoritarian rule in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland and other Central and Eastern European countries. It helped the Brits and the Irish see eye-to-eye and finally develop a shared strategy to end the civil war in Northern Ireland. Europe has created wealth and, equally important, a sense of shared destiny.

At 50, herzlichen Glückwunsch, Europa!

Please e-mail PostGlobal if you'd like to receive an email notification when PostGlobal sends out a new question.

Email This Post to a Friend | Del.icio.us | Digg | Facebook | Email the Author

Reader Response

ALL COMMENTS (37)
PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.