In seminar Global Regulatory Power, Executive MPAs focus on multilevel approaches to big problems

Global problem-solving course led by Dennis Snower features online "fireside chat" with Martin Schulz, former EU Parliament President.

Worldwide challenges like pandemics, global warming and migration need internationally coordinated approaches. But this idea has been challenged in recent years by some who argue that multilateralism cannot replace, or even threatens, national sovereignty.

In Global Regulatory Power, a three day seminar taught by Dennis Snower, Senior Professor of Macreconomics and Sustainability at the Hertie School, Executive MPA students examined the principles for approaching global problems that have national and local repercussions. Ten participants from Moldova, the United States, Kenya, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and Italy brought experiences from diverse professional backgrounds – such as consultancy McKinsey & Co., the African Export-Import Bank, Google, and the NGO Leadership for Equity – to the seminar held online at the end of November.

They discussed topics such as the governance of trade and investment, climate change and the environment, education in the digital age, social cohesion, and the international financial architecture. “The students brought their personal experiences to bear on the subject matter,” said Snower. “These problems are all challenging since no nation can deal with them individually. Cooperation among nations needs to be flexible, geared to the requirements of the separate problems.” 

How can such global problems be coordinated through global policies that are implemented at the national and local level, with the ultimate aim of inclusive and sustainable prosperity? The aim of the course was to offer students tools with which to answer this question in real-life scenarios. Applying these tools, students wrote policy briefs addressing specific global problems. “It became clear that none of these problems can be solved without the collaboration of business, civil society and academia with policymakers,” Snower said. “This is what makes global problem solving so engaging and active for the entire class.” 

The highlight of the seminar was an online “fireside chat” with former European Parliament President and German politician Martin Schulz on 16 November. Schulz offered students a view into his practical experience as president of a large multilateral institution, in particular about the functioning of parliaments in multilevel systems.

“The nearer the decision-making level is to citizens, the higher the acceptance and support,” said Schulz. “Whatever you can do at the local level, do it there – but climate change, worldwide trade relations, financial regulations, peace, security, or disarmament are impossible to solve on local, regional or national level. Globalisation needs rules that can only be applied via multi-level cooperation of world regions,” he noted.

Executive MPA student Vani Assadurian of Germany asked Schulz about the underlying principle of the EU as a “community of values” rather than a “community of interests”, noting that the EU does not always sanction countries that act against these values, and sometimes even accepts them as partners. 

“I appreciate the balancing act politicians have to do on a daily basis, especially in foreign affairs,” she said. “The issue starts when enforcement – especially from Western communities – only comes when their interests are at the centre. And that can make not only the European Union, but also governments, nation-states, and powerful members of the international community not very credible.”

Schulz noted that in recent years, some people indeed seem to view and treat the EU as “a union of added value more than a union of shared values.” He said he was worried about recent developments regarding values that lie at the very centre of democratic institutions like parliaments. “Parliaments in the past agreed across different political tendencies about certain fundamental principles,” he said. “For example, respect for the fundamental, individual rights of every citizen. But in the meantime you have in some parliaments of the European Union, not some extremists, but strong parliamentarian groups putting in doubt concretely that all citizens are equal and that logically state authorities have to treat them all on the same level.”

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