LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut (European Institute) GmbH is a think-tank-like company mainly working on European and international economic, legal and Governance issues which are all treated in a cross-skilled way. If one talks about a think-tank, its orientation should be mentioned: LIBERTAS – European Institute is pro-European, in favour of more integration, for more and against less Europe. The German institutional and opinion environment is quite positive for these objectives. LIBERTAS as a Limited Liability Company under German law (GmbH) is an independent enterprise which finances its activities by its market approach only; it is no public or interest-funded institution, nor any lobby association. Its shareholders are company managers, former staff of European Union institutions and the staff of the enterprise itself. The Managing Director 1992-2015 has been Ms. Ute Hirschburger, Dipl.-Betriebswirtin (equivalent to MBA), who also teaches International Economy at Dual University Baden-Württemberg (DHBW) as well as in Betriebswirt (IHK) courses for various Chambers of Commerce in South West Germany; she leads the sector of company consulting. The fields of government & legislative consulting, publications and European Studies are led by Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, an experienced lawyer, until 2002 as German Solicitor/Barrister, as head of a foreign chamber office and for five years also Member of European Parliament. Since 2003 he has been Senior Expert of LIBERTAS – European Institute and was e.g. for the EU, UNDP and World Bank on many assignments as Government Advisor in approx. 40 countries. He has been also Senior Lecturer at German and foreign universities (EU law, European economy and Business subjects). Since 2015, he is CEO.
LIBERTAS has, by the way, nothing to do with the „Libertas Party“ founded in 2008 in Galway/Ireland by a businessman, running for the European Parliament elections 2009 and harvesting almost no votes throughout Europe; this party was at that time arguing against the Treaty of Lisbon and e.g. in Germany strongly libertarian and very right-wing oriented. It does not play any role anymore – in Germany it could not even gather the necessary number of signatures for participating in the EP elections. This party and the preceding „Libertas Institute“ have been founded in 2008, while LIBERTAS – European Institute has been registrated since 1992 in the German Company Register. The name comes from a multilingual periodical named „LIBERTAS – European Review“ which appeared already 1974 for the first time, and its volumes for 1985-1992 can be downloaded for free in the Internet under www.libertas-institut.eu (then on the „News“ page) – as a literature and political gem. „Libertas“ stands for civil liberty, Human Rights and Social Market Economy, but also tolerance and a free discussion culture, as well as for European integration – these arethe values of the company.
LIBERTAS took also part in projects which are run by EU consortia, e.g. a Leonardo Project on European architects‘ continuous formation, on the context of cooperation and competitiveness, on EU enlargement together with French and Spanish local government associations etc. Since autumn 2011 until the end of 2013 LIBERTAS has been home of research activities on European legal structures, together with the Autonomous Province of Trento/Italy and the University of Trento. Since that date we welcomed our colleague Prof. Dr. Alessio Bartolacelli, Trento/Modena. Since the beginning of the 1990s we host the European EEIG Information Centre (www.ewiv.eu) founded by LIBERTAS as a loose cooperation of European lawyers, tax experts, economists, university teachers and researchers and managers, which serves as the focal point in the whole EU and beyond for all questions on European Economic Interest Groupings (EEIG), after EU Regulation 2137/85. Besides this legal form for cooperation we have also an accent on EGTCs, a legal form for cooperation of public entities – the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation. Moreover we have activities for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) for which we maintain a Competence Centre, and on regional cooperation between different government and administrative levels.
LIBERTAS has also produced various publications as eBooks and print versions, in particular since November 2009 our flagship „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ; see also www.eufaj.eu). It can be downloaded for free, as part of our publication policy. We also have developed a high level of competence in civic education, in particular at the interfaces between EU policies and business, above all for small and medium enterprises (SME). Since 2011 one of our main subjects was the European policy towards the „Arab Spring“ states, and since many years also the roles to overcome the global East-West as well as the North-South disparities. Since the end 0f 2014 we observe closely the Ukraine crisis and work in the Eastern Partnership states of the Former Soviet Union. We also run, since April 2015, a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Observatory, for which former EUFAJ Editor Ofelya Sargsyan compiled material and sources. Through our editorial board we maintain excellent working relations to the CIS, above all to the South Caucasus, Central Asia, but also to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, to central banks etc.
To our subjects belong also the financial and state debt crisis, where LIBERTAS staff belonged to an expert pool of the EU (Commission/DG Communication) and set up a concept for a European Rating Agency. In the years before 2002 we have been very busy with the introduction of the Euro, including being called into GROUPEURO, an expert pool of the Directorate General II/X of the EU Commission, and the authoring of (bestseller) books on European Monetary Union, and many information – and consulting – events e.g. for banks, insurances, IT companies in various countries. Finally, we also give Europe-wide many workshops or seminars or speak on conferences, mostly organised by third parties.
Since beginning of 2015 we are also in close partnership with the European University, Tbilisi/Georgia. From 2016; there is a long tradition of fruitful cooperation, also in publications, with the Faculty of Law and Humanities of this University.
We are happy to maintain close contacts to consulting companies, law firms, taxation experts, many clients who let through us observe the markets for public tenders, in view of many opportunities of networking and cooperation. By this blog – not only in English language – we want to fill up the time between the quarterly EUFAJ issues and want to inform the interested public on our activities and European and international policy’s various subjects. Your contributions would be very welcome (firstname.lastname@example.org). To complete the synergy effects, we also run – via EUFAJ – a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/eufaj). There, as well as by the blog or of course our website, you’ll learn all about topical developments, including workshops, seminars etc.