Cultural diversity as a driving force for compromises: Member of the European Parliament Siegfried Mureșan campaigns for higher budgets for research, exchange and innovation in Europe – and against corruption in his home country Romania. A DAAD scholarship also helped him on his path.
On this particular morning Siegfried Mureșan has already had talks with an MEP from Spain and another MEP from the Netherlands. In the afternoon the Vice-Chair of the European People’s Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament is meeting with delegates from Moldova. Nowhere is close international cooperation such a natural part of the everyday routine as it is in political life in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Diversity has always been a part of Siegried Mureșan’s life. He was born in 1981 in Hunedoara, Romania – a country that was cut off from the world until the fall of the communist dictatorship and where, as Mureșan clearly remembers, oranges were only available at Christmas. “And yet my childhood prepared me well for life in Europe,” he says. That is because Siegfried Mureșan grew up with two cultures and languages: his mother belonged to the German minority of Transylvanian Saxons in Romania and is Catholic, while his father is a member of the Romanian Orthodox Church. “Every year we celebrated Easter twice. From an early age it was normal for me to meet people of different religions and origins with openness and tolerance,” he explains. “I appreciate cultural differences. Today that helps me to find compromises that are good for everyone involved.”
Mureșan enrolled at the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies at the age of 19. “Periods of study abroad were still a rare exception at that time,” he says. However, as the planned EU accession in 2007 came nearer and nearer, the feeling of a new beginning in Romania grew stronger and stronger and more and more students decided to study at universities in EU member states.
After gaining his diploma in 2004 Mureșan successfully applied for a Master degree course in economics and management at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and received a DAAD scholarship. “I very much enjoyed living in Berlin. The city’s internationality and dynamic cultural life were something new for me.” After completing his Master in 2006 Siegfried Mureșan was accepted on the International Scholarship Programme of the Bundestag and subsequently worked for the Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs. “That time was a very valuable learning phase for me, and my interest in European policy steadily increased,” he explains.
In 2009 he went to work at the European Parliament as a member of staff – and eventually decided to stand as a candidate himself in the European elections of May 2014. Immediately after his election he became Vice-President of the Committee on Budgets. As the EPP Group’s main negotiator for the 2018 EU budget he succeeded, among other things, in increasing the budget for Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation, and the Erasmus+ programme for exchange and education. The MEP for the National Liberal Party of Romania is also focusing on the subjects of modernisation, digitalisation, research and innovation in the current budget negotiations.
Combating corruption in Romania is also close to his heart. In 2017 and 2018 he took part in the large demonstrations against the plan of the then government to decriminalise abuse of office. “Many demonstrators protested with EU flags,” he says. “That shows how much approval of the EU there still is in Romania today.”
In his everyday life Siegfried Mureșan travels a lot between Brussels, Strasbourg and Bucharest; his wife works as an anti-fraud expert at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. “Brussels is also a very diverse and interesting city outside the EU institutions,” says the MEP. “We would like to experience this diversity more directly – but usually there isn’t the time for that.”
Author: Miriam Hoffmeyer, 14 October 2020