Er fliegt für EU-Projekte um die halbe Welt

Der gebürtige Pöllauer Philipp Brugner arbeitet als Projektmanager für EU-Projekte am „Zentrum für Soziale Innovation“ in Wien. Dafür ist er in ganz Europa und darüber hinaus unterwegs. Neben seiner Arbeit ist er auch ehrenamtlich bei den „Young European Ambassadors“ tätig. Philipp Brugner ist seit mehr als vier Jahren als Projektmanager für EU-Projekte am Zentrum für Soziale Innovationen GmbH” in Wien tätig. Aktuell beschäftigt man sich intensiv mit dem europäischen Forschungsrahmenprogramm “Horizont 2020”.

Harnessing competitiveness for social and ecological goals

by Karl Aiginger

The term competitiveness has been “captured” for too long by lobbyists and politicians in pursuing a low wage strategy. The right-wing populists of today, like the new US administration, have extended this low road agenda by calling for lower environmental ambitions and for a lower social standard. The potential loss of jobs due to “unfair” low cost competitors, but also to inward migration, can mobilize popular support against globalization, even if the trade balance is positive, as it is in the EU. This article argues that countries focusing on innovation, skills and product quality are more successful in the long run. Especially for industrialized countries this is the only strategy to further increase welfare, since low cost countries will enter the market all the time. A high road strategy however needs an alternative framework of concepts and definitions: competitiveness is defined as the ability to deliver outcomes that include social and environmental goals; performance is measured by “Beyond GDP indicators”; and finally a systemic industrial policy has to support innovation and retrain the losers of structural change. In a “high road” approach, competiveness harnesses societal goals and undermines the roots of populism.

Political Rebound Effects as Stumbling Blocks for Socio-ecological Transition

by Karl Aiginger

While the extent to which management and owner interests in firms can diverge has been extensively researched, the discrepancy between the preferences of citizens and governmental response to these (or lack thereof) remains under- researched. It may lead to disruptive changes and the unexpected rise of populism that calls for new elites or a return to old values or both. The article begins with the fact that a clear majority of citizens dislike increasing inequality and would like governments to prevent climate catastrophes, ranging from droughts to global warming. Nevertheless, neither green parties nor parties that favour redistribution have been successful in most countries. Documentary policy analysis yields to explanations for this, which are probably interconnected: “political rebound effects” and the fear that inefficient governments might not solve the core problems while increasing the already high tax burden. These hypotheses can hopefully help focus the assessment of uprising populist movements and provide the basis for more empirical research. OLD to be deleted: While it is intensively researched how far interests between management and owners in firms can diverge, the discussion why differences between the preferences of citizens will not be implemented by governments even in the very long run is under researched. These differences then may lead to disruptive changes and the unexpected success of populism calling for new elites or to the return to old values or both. The article starts from the fact that a clear majority of citizens dislike rising inequality and would like governments to prevent climate catastrophes from droughts to global warming. Nevertheless neither green parties nor parties favouring redistribution are successful in most countries. Documentary policy analysis leads to two explanations which will probably work together: first by “political rebound effects” and secondly by the fear that inefficient governments may not solve the prime problems but only increase the already high tax burden. These hypotheses hopefully help to focus the assessment of uprising populist movements and are open to more empirical research.

Regional Competitiveness Under New Perspectives

by Karl Aiginger and Matthias Firgo

The term “competitiveness” has been used in conceptually distinct ways at the firm, regional and national levels. After primarily reviewing existing concepts at the national level, we introduce a new definition of regional competitiveness adapting definitions used in the academic literature. Specifically, we connect “outcome competitiveness” with new perspectives on a more socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable growth path, as envisaged in the WWWforEurope research program, in which 33 European research groups are taking part. Evaluating competitiveness requires both an input assessment (costs, productivity, economic structure, capabilities) and an outcome assessment. We define regional outcome competitiveness as the ability of a region to deliver Beyond GDP goals. For regions in industrialized countries, this ability depends on innovation, education, institutions, social cohesion and ecological ambition. Given this new perspective (of broader Beyond GDP goals), social investments and ecological ambitions should not be considered costs, but rather drivers of competitiveness. This is compatible with a new innovation policy fostering non-technical innovations and a new industrial policy supporting societal goals. Applying this concept to European regions, we show which regions take the "high road" to competitiveness and compare our results with the existing literature.


by Karl Aiginger

The European project is a long-run success story. Up to the 1990s, Europe thrived and experienced rising prosperity, as well as a catching up process with technology frontiers, while simultaneously extending its welfare model. The integration process, starting with six Member States, led to a single market of 28 countries. It culminated in the creation of a currency union for 330 million Europeans. The political integration of former communist countries and their economic catching-up with Western Europe were achieved at an unprecedented historical pace.


by Karl Aiginger

New challenges can only be overcome internationally. If small countries want to play a role, the European level needs to be consolidated. However, if common solutions are poorly communicated or if there is too much interference in national priorities and individual living conditions, they will be rejected as edicts from Brussels and a return to national solutions will be demanded. In extreme cases, this can lead to exits from the EU; even if this fails to contribute to solving the problem and actually further reduces the available options and the prospects of success.

We highlight that Europe-wide regulations can actually lead to a greater scope of action at the national level. Innovative, problem-specific solutions can be developed based on national priorities due to the fact that international restrictions and leakage effects are eliminated. We demonstrate this in the case of tax regimes, fiscal and climate policy, and for globalization. Best practice examples of European policy which provided funds not feasible at the national level, but at the same time increased the options at the regional or national level and which were moreefficient, can be found in the EU‟s regional and research policies. From these, we derive principles for overcoming the contradiction which currently prevails between the need for common rules and the desire for decentralized solutions on the regional or national levels.

Auf dem Weg zu einer Bürgerunion?

by Philipp Brugner

DiePresse, 08.08.2018

Auf EU-Ebene bahnen sich momentan viele Veränderungen an: Aktuell die österreichische Ratspräsidentschaft, deren erklärtes Ziel es ist, den Brexit und ein neues, rigides europäisches Migrationsmanagement zum Abschluss zu bringen. Im Mai nächsten Jahres dann die Wahlen zum Europaparlament und die Suche nach einer rasch handlungsfähigen Kommission, der es gelingen muss, bei den europäischen Reformvorhaben rasch wieder Fahrt aufzunehmen.

Der Balkan wird nicht warten

by Karl Aiginger

DerStandard, 27.08.2018

Wenn die EU wartet, bis in allen sechs Ländern in unserer südlichen Nachbarschaft stabile Demokratien ohne nationale Konflikte vorliegen, werden Putin und Erdoğan den Westbalkan weiter destabilisiert haben. 

Die EU hat 2003 beschlossen, dem gesamten "Westbalkan" die Chance zu eröffnen, der EU beizutreten. 15 Jahre später ist man nicht viel weiter. Das erinnert an den Mitgliedsantrag der Türkei vor nunmehr fast 60 Jahren; sie stellte 1959 den Antrag, in die EWG aufgenommen zu werden. Dann verließ uns der Mut: Viele EU-Staaten machen den Beitritt – neben der Erfüllung der üblichen Bedingungen – von nationalen Volksabstimmungen abhängig. Und das besonders in den Ländern, in denen viele Türken arbeiten und die Bevölkerung wahrscheinlich gegen den Beitritt stimmen würde, so zum Beispiel in Österreich. Heute verwandelt Erdoğan die Türkei von einem laizistischen Staat in eine illiberale Demokratie mit dominanter islamistischer Religion und Kampfrhetorik gegen die Kurden.

Europa muss Chancen öffnen, nicht Zäune bauen

by Karl Aiginger

Ökonomenstimme, 2. Juli 2018

Eine aktive Europastrategie zeichnet sich bis zur Neubildung der Kommission nicht ab. Populistische Parteien rufen auch in Europa nach Renationalisierung. Die Österreichische Ratspräsidentschaft hat den Schutz der Grenzen zum zentralen Programm gemacht. Wohlfahrt kann aber langfristig nur gesichert werden durch Investieren und Integrieren. Europa braucht Netto-Immigration und sollte diese durch Anreize für Regionen und Personen dorthin lenken, wo die Nachfrage am höchsten ist.