11 : 15 . I adore newspapers, especially the print ones. I particularly like the German newspaper Die Zeit*, but it requires time to read and given my position, I also need to read the constant flow of national and European print as well as online articles. So I try to find balance: on one hand follow EU and worldwide debates, and on the other hand find time to disconnect. Simply sit back, dive in and ‘enjoy the read’. (She smiles)
Utta is head of the press and communications department and spokesperson of the Socialists&Democrats group at the European Parliament.
I feel German and I also feel European, for me the two are easily reconcilable and enjoyable. Nevertheless, I often feel a certain ‘identity dilemma’, especially when it comes to my children. The other day my daughter asked me: ‘Mom, am I Belgian or am I German?’ She grew up in Belgium after all. And I want my children to define their identity, how they want to do so. Because this is what the European idea is about.
For Christmas this year we had a debate about the Christmas tree : whether to put it up on the 24th of December like the Germans do, or three weeks in advance like the Belgians do. I gave in: we did it the Belgian way this year. And it was fun!
– I do miss Germany sometimes, especially this deeper feeling of being rooted in your home country. I miss my parents and I often wonder what it would be like to see them on a regular basis. I miss the harbour. I miss my hometown Hamburg. I miss German bread! (She laughs) But at the same time, I love Brussels, its mix of cultures, its political environment – it is my home since more than 18 years now.
I deeply believe in the European idea : that is the basis of everything I do. My life and my mission in life are here – so I am positive and optimistic. Working in EU politics is not always easy, even complex, especially in the current political climate, but I enjoy what I do and we may not let the difficulties win over our sense of hope. Hope is an individual choice. Optimism is an individual choice.
Sometimes I wake up in a bad mood, but I instantly switch it off because I think: should I only have 24 more hours – why would I want to spend them in a bad mood?
*(Zeit means time in German)