In conversation with Delara Burkhardt, Member of the European Parliament

365 Sherpas: Ms Burkhardt, do you see Europe, or even a certain country or a certain place, as your homeland? If so, what makes Europe home to you?

Delara Burkhardt: To me, homeland is a concept that relates to people. It makes no difference where they happen to be. To me, homeland is a concept that goes beyond geography – it’s a question of where friends and family are.

365 Sherpas: Do you believe that your generation is more European that the generations before?

Burkhardt: I think it’s easier for younger generations to be European. We’ve grown up in a Europe of constant change, while our parents’ generation was still facing the challenges of Reunification. Some of my family fled to Germany from Iran. To them, Europe is yet another type of homeland – a community of values and a place of human rights. But today that seems almost cynical to me in light of the current migration debates.

»I wish for a United States of Europe, and for there to be no more difference in the quality of life depending on where in the EU you live and work.«

365 Sherpas: Do you feel that here in the European Parliament as well? Are there differences between younger and older MEPs?

Burkhardt: I would say that here in the European Parliament the people whose thinking is especially European come together from the ranks of the pro-European parties. However, then more than any­thing it’s the conservative governments made up of precisely these parties that block a lot of projects in the Council. A lot of young MEPs are united by working with a view to the future. Despite having different ideas, which is bound to happen politically across the continent, looking ahead is something we share: It’s our own future that we’re shaping here.

365 Sherpas: How do you imagine your home in Europe 20 years from now?

Burkhardt: I wish for a United States of Europe, and for there to be no more difference in the quality of life based on where in the EU you live and work. Above all, I hope we find answers to the questions that define what Europe means to me. Right now, I cannot reconcile the fact that people are drowning in the Mediterra­nean with any of the values for which Europe stands. This is an area where we’re making no progress and we’re not finding a solution, even though everyone knows that something has to be done.

365 Sherpas: Do you have any specific goals for yourself for the new parliamentary term?

Burkhardt: One thing that I personally want to do is to bring the European Parliament closer to the people for whom I’m here. Moreover, the EU is incredibly important when it comes to doing something about the climate crisis: Instead of small national steps, we have to pursue common goals in the EU. In the Committee on the Environment I would like to promote cooperation on issues such as biodiversity, trade and other key areas, doing something to help achieve our climate goals.

365 Sherpas: Is there anything you don’t have in Brussels or Strasbourg that would make you feel more at home?

Burkhardt: Yes, the sea. Wherever I’ve lived before, there’s always been water. But I go home to lovely Kiel every week, so I’m not left wanting for long!

Delara Burkhardt was born in Hamburg in 1992 and joined the SPD at 15. She is the Deputy Chairwoman of JUSOS – Young Socialists in the SPD. Since May 2019, she has been a member of the European Parliament, where she is working towards sustainability and climate protection, as well as the decriminalisation of sea rescue and a more humane refugee policy.