Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

Joseph Monisse -Week 6

Joseph Monisse, 15 February 2016

In my sixth week at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, I assisted in hosting the event, “Powering  Security :EU Natural Gas Supplies”, in addition to working with the FNF Greece to produce a documentary focused on Greek entrepreneurship.

On Thursday, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation hosted the event, “Powering  Security :EU Natural Gas Supplies”. This event focused on the potential of gas supply shortages to affect energy security in the European Union. My tasks in relation to this event included preparing bios for the panel of speakers, researching the topics being discussed, and managing event attendance. The panel of four speakers discussed the role of regulation and infrastructure in promoting energy security, and featured experts such as Stefan Moser, Head of the Security of Supply Unit in DG Energy.

In addition to assisting with the event, I had the opportunity to work with the FNF Greece. Along with Markus Kaiser, Project Manager of the FNF for Greece, I worked with Athanasios Grammenos, the FNF Project Officer for Greece, to to develop an educational documentary promoting entrepreneurship in Greece.The documentary features Greek entrepreneurs who have created profitable businesses despite the unfavorable economic conditions and regulatory environment that exists in Greece. I reviewed and edited the documentary’s English subtitles, as well as preparing a PowerPoint presentation examining the challenges the current economic conditions and the refugee crisis pose to Europe.

On Sunday, I traveled to Antwerp, a port city in the Flemish Region of Belgium. I visited the Church of Saint Carolus Borromeus, as well as the city’s Museum of Modern Art. The museum features the work  of many contemporary European artists, such as the installation by Sanne De Wolf, Salon des Réfugiés, 2015. I also visited the castle of Het Steen, a medieval fortress which is Antwerp’s oldest building.

During the seventh week of my internship, my role will mainly involve assisting a visiting group of pro-democracy Tunisian journalists during a one week program they will attend at the FNF.

Joseph Monisse – Week 5

Joseph Monisse, 8 February 2016

During my fifth week at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, I assisted in organizing an event on the topic of the 2016 Philippines elections.

Later this month, the FNF will hold an event hosting a visiting group of pro-democracy journalists from the Philippines. Although the Philippines has held democratic elections since 1907, Ferdinand Marcos’ 14 year military dictatorship has left a legacy of corruption and human rights abuse. Many of the past dictator’s family members are running as candidates in the upcoming elections, and opinion polls place one of Marcos’ sons as the second most popular candidate for Vice President. The FNF’s support of a pro-democracy media is invaluable in enabling unbiased political commentary on the elections, and promoting the spread of democratic values in what is one of the fastest developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region. My role in preparing for this event has included drafting promotional texts, researching the current political situation in the Philippines, and preparing introductory bios for each of the event’s participants.

In addition, I also attended an event hosted by the Centre for European Policy Studies on the topic of the European capital market. The event launched CEPS’s latest report, “Europe’s Untapped Capital Market –Rethinking integration after the great financial crisis”. The panel centered its discussion on the benefits an integrated European capital market, and removing barriers to cross-border flow of capital. According to the report, a more integrated European capital market will boost investment by up to ‎€1.8 trillion, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.

On Sunday I traveled to Spa, a town in the Walloon Region of Belgium. I visited the Leopold II Gallery, the historic residence of Queen Marie Henriette, and the natural springs for which the town is famous.

Over the sixth week of my internship, my tasks will include researching the recent Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers, and assisting the FNF in hosting an event on energy security in the EU.

Joseph Monisse -Week 4

Joseph Monisse, 1 February 2016

During the fourth week of my internship, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation hosted its first event for 2016. As well as assisting with our first event of the year, “Will we reach a safe harbor?”, I continued to assist the FNF in their efforts to promote effective economic policy in Greece.

On Tuesday, the FNF hosted the event “Will we reach a safe harbor?”. The panel of experts present discussed the proposed Safe Harbor agreement, a policy platform designed to provide uniform regulation for the storage and transfer of data between the European Union and the USA. Since the previous Safe Harbor agreement was stuck down by the European Court of Justice in October due to privacy concerns, European data regulation threatens to return to a complicated patchwork of national legislation. The new Safe Harbor agreement aims to provide a solid, uniform European regulatory framework to protect personal information and guarantee privacy, while promoting free transatlantic exchange of data necessary to promote competition and innovation in Europe’s growing digital economy.

The FNF continues to promote free market solutions in Greece, a nation crippled by decades of protectionism and excessive government spending. Together with Markus Kaiser, project manager of the FNF Greece, I have assisted with promoting ‘Enclaves of Freedom and Development’, a short book published by the FNF advocating for the introduction of Special Economic Zones in Greece. First proposed by a group of graduates and students of the Athens Law school, Special Economic Zones would exist in designated areas of Greece, where investment would be promoted through the implementation of a unique, investment-friendly regulatory framework. The zones would feature guarantees protecting investors from future policy changes, and would provide a supportive environment for investment in the Greek economy.

On Sunday, I traveled to Ghent, a city located in the Dutch-speaking East Flanders province of Belgium.  I visited Gravensteen, the castle that once was the seat of the Counts of Flanders. I also visited some of many churches throughout Ghent.

After successfully hosting our first event of the year, I look forward to continuing my work at the FNF over the fifth week of my internship.

The Statue of Saint Mary -Saint Jacob's Church Ghent


The Sanctuary -Saint Jacob's Church Ghent

Night View -Saint Jacob's Church Ghent

The Gravensteen

Joseph Monisse – Week 3

Joseph Monisse, 25 January 2016

It has now been three weeks since I began my internship at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Over the last week my tasks at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation have included conducting research on the current state of democracy in Tunisia, as well as researching recent developments on the Safe Harbor Agreement.

On Monday I attended the event, “Digital Values: Advancing Technology, Preserving Fundamental Rights.” The event was hosted by Carnegie Europe and featured a panel of experts, including Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, and Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality. The panel discussed challenges faced by the growing European technology sector, in particular the Safe Harbor Agreement, which if implemented, will provide uniform regulation on the exchange of data between the United States of America and the European Union.  After the event, I attended a cocktail evening at the Microsoft Innovation Center in Brussels.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s role in promoting democracy is particularly important in light of recent instability in Tunisia. Growing dissatisfaction with high unemployment rates and a poor economy has resulted in protests against the current government’s inability to address the problem. At least two people have lost their lives. Over the third week of my internship, I have researched the recent developments in Tunisia, with the aim of hosting an educational event at the Friedrich Naumann foundation in mid-February. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s work in Tunisia consists of providing education and support for Tunisian advocates of liberal values. Our work is invaluable in ensuring the fledgling democracy continues as an example of peaceful democratic change in a region plagued by the chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring.

On Saturday, I traveled to Paris. I spent my weekend sampling the delicious French cuisine, viewing the art in the Louvre museum, and visiting landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the  Arc de Triomphe.

After an eventful third week in, I look forward to more exciting opportunities in the fourth week of my internship in Brussels.

Joseph Monisse -Week 2

Joseph Monisse, 18 January 2016

During the second week of my internship, my role within the Friedrich Naumann Foundation has diversified as I continue to gain experience and adapt to my new environment

My tasks this week have included researching the European Commission’s proposed Digital Single Market and attending a conference on the recent elections in Spain. A part of the European Commission’s Work Program 2016, the Digital Single Market initiative aims to stimulate the digital economy, with policy changes such as ending geoblocking within  the EU and providing greater protections for personal data.

On Wednesday I attended a group discussion on the topic of the recent Spanish elections. This was held at Renaissance Hotel in Brussels, hosted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Foundation Robert Schuman. Featured on the panel were a number of notable panellists, such as Antonio Lopez-Isturiz-White, the Secretary General of the European People’s Party. The decline of the two-party system in Spain, and the corresponding rise of new parties such as the left-wing Podemos party and the centre-right Cuidadanos party, has resulted in no party having the majority needed to form a government. If a coalition is not formed by the end of January, another election will be held. Together with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s European Affairs Manager, Håvard Sandvik, I will be researching any further developments in Spain over the next few weeks.

I have also contributed to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s work in Greece. Working with Markus Kaiser, project manager of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Greece, my tasks include preparing educational material to promote liberal, democratic values in Greece, as well as assisting with the translation of Greek speeches and documents into English. The work of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Greece has been invaluable in promoting unity among Greek supporters of democracy and liberal values.

After a productive second week in Brussels, I look forward to continuing my work at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation throughout the third week of my internship.

Belgian Waffles at Rue Neuve

Rue Neuve -Brussels' Main Shopping StripHotel de la Poste

Joseph Monisse-Week 1

Joseph Monisse, 11 January 2016

It seems just yesterday that I arrived in Brussels to start my internship at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. There’s been so much to see and do, and time passes quickly.  Over the past week I’ve adapted to my new role as an intern with Friedrich Naumann Foundation team, and learned a lot about the intriguing culture and history of Belgium.

Brussels has been an amazing place to visit, with attractions such as the Grand Palace, the Saint Michel Cathedral, and a variety of restaurants and bars. Geographically positioned between France and the Netherlands, both French and Dutch influences are evident in architecture, cuisine, and culture of Brussels.

The team at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation are competent and friendly, and I feel that I have adjusted to my new environment very well.

The main focus of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation is to promote liberal values and a liberal vision for the European Union. We do this by organizing a range of events and educational opportunities to promote awareness of liberal ideology. My tasks over the past week have included researching speakers for a panel discussion on energy security, as well as preparing educational material for a conference on the history and government of the European Union.

Over the next few weeks, I will be attending events and seminars held in the EU district. I look forward to many exciting experiences during my time with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, and you can expect to read all about it in my weekly blog.

Week 8 – Angelyn Seen

angelyn.seen, 2 February 2015

It has been a tumultuous week in Europe, with the week starting with the announcement of the newly elected Greek Government. Unsurprisingly, the office was dominated with speculation about the future of the Eurozone. Political debates aside, the opportunity to witness a potential turning point in European politics and engage in discussion with some experts in the field made me truly appreciative of my time at the FNF.

The High Court’s decision in CPCF v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection mid-week made a timely revision to my article. Plainly stated, a slim majority (4:3) found that the detention of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers in 2014 was valid under Section 72(4) of the Maritime Powers Act. This section was source of the Government’s power to detain the asylum seekers, and did not have to be interpreted, nor limited by Australia’s non-refoulement obligations under international law. Unfortunately the court did not find it necessary to rule, nor provide guidance as to the scope of executive power, which will be a source of frustration to many (as constitutional law students can attest to!). However, the decision raised questions as to Australia’s adherence to international law, and more broadly, what extent international law ought to play within the Australian legal system.

Over the past few weeks, I have also been working on a project involving the Economic Freedom Index. While I cannot detail the specifics of the project, it has been interesting to compare Australia’s ranking (4th in 2015) to other countries.

One of the highlights of the working week was attending a talk about the upcoming Nigerian Elections in February. Held by the German institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), the discussion focused on the political, economic, social and religious factors which may threaten the incumbent party’s dominance in Nigerian Politics (who have won every presidential election since 1999). There was fierce debate regarding the issue of Boko Haram and a detailed review of the affect of oil prices upon the Nigerian Economy. On an optimistic note, there was a general consensus that a transparent election, followed by a peaceful transition of power (if any) would be an important step, reflecting the growth towards a democratic culture within the country.

While I have definitely have been capitalising on the proximity and convenience of continental Europe to travel, there are so many attractions within central Berlin that have enabled me to keep a good balance between work and leisure during the working week! Some of the highlights include a ten minute walk from the office to the Palace of Tears, an evening tour around an underground “child and mother bunker” and a visit to the Hohenschönhausen Memorial, one of the main prisons run by the East German Secret Police (Stasi).

Berlin has many exciting things to offer for all its visitors – from those who stay for a few weeks, to those who stop by for a mere day or two!

Week 7 – Angelyn Seen

angelyn.seen, 27 January 2015

It has been another busy week at the FNF, starting with the launch of the Foundation’s 2015 Program of lectures, conferences and E-Academy events.

A notable release amongst these announcements was the publication of the monthly issue of Focus: Human Rights by the International Politics and Human Rights Department. The series covers a range of human rights issues which are on the current agenda, in collaboration with the Foundation’s regional offices. The most recent issue covered the right to peaceful assembly in Egypt, and can be accessed here.

My primary focus for this week was consulting with the FNF regional office in Jakarta regarding the Indonesian response to Australia’s asylum policy. Of note was the Indonesian response to Operation Sovereign Borders and the Abbott Government’s decision to deny refugees registered with the UNHCR (after 1 July 2014) in Indonesia resettlement in Australia.

Unfortunately, I succumbed to the weather, coming down with a small cold at the end of the week. However, determined to make the most of my time in Berlin, I explored some of the underground bunkers and tunnel networks under the city which were used during WWII and the Cold War. Three methods (amongst many) that East Germans used to cross into West Germany following the division included; crossing through train tunnels, through sewerage systems and self dug tunnels. It is estimated that there were over 75 self dug tunnels during the Cold War period, only a portion of which were successful.

One of the highlights of the tour was seeing how different household items were crafted from objects used during the war (for example, an heater made from an old bomb!) and to learn that even now, construction workers are finding pieces of debris and armaments in Berlin.  For example, in December, the main train station at Potsdam was evacuated after a 250 kg bomb was discovered.

Every now and then, the train would rumble past above us, making it a very memorable experience.

Week 6 – Angelyn Seen

angelyn.seen, 27 January 2015

It was another busy week at the office, with 2015 promising to be an exciting year for the FNF.

The primary focus of my research this week was analysing the changes in Australia’s asylum policy following the passage of the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014 (Cth) in December. Among a raft of other amendments, the act confers unprecedented powers to the Immigration Minister, the re-introduction of temporary protection visas, limits merit based review and references to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

These changes have not been without controversy, as illustrated by demonstrations on Manus Island earlier in the week. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider these policy changes in light of Australia’s comparatively low intake of refugees – Germany is the largest recipient of asylum seekers in the EU with an estimated 65 700 new asylum claims registered during the first half of 2014 according to UNHCR figures.

On Tuesday, there was a peaceful rally outside the Brandenburg Gate in solidarity with Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The demonstration also aimed to promote tolerance in Germany in wake of growing anti-Islamic protests. Excitingly, FNF received some media coverage, with Foundation logos waving against the iconic background of the Brandenburg Gate in the evening news (see above). 

I have been enjoying my weekend in Dresden, a few hours south from Berlin. Whilst it was the target of heavily concentrated firebombing in World War II, reconstruction efforts have seen the restoration of the numerous cathedrals and historic buildings within the city. It was a welcome change of pace from the bustle of Berlin.

Week 5 – Angelyn Seen

angelyn.seen, 27 January 2015

One of the few things I have come to appreciate about Europe is the proximity and efficiency of travel. I flew home to Berlin on Sunday evening, ready for work on Monday without the hassle of jetlag or transits!

Over the next month, I will be working in conjunction with the International Department of the FNF based in Potsdam. My primary task is to write an article reviewing Australia’s Asylum Seeker Policy for the FNF’s Focus: Human Rights Publication.

This is a timely issue in both countries. Germany has witnessed numerous anti-immigration, anti-Islamisation protests, most notably by Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) in Dresden over the past few months. Optimistically, there has been a conscious movement to condemn such rallies and to promote tolerance. Lights of some of Germany’s famous landmarks including the Cologne Cathedral were shut down in a bid to deny any scenic backgrounds for PEGIDA protests, and Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the issue in her New Year’s address.  In Australia, the passing of the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 (Cth) mid December last year pushed the asylum seeker issue back on the agenda.

I took a sombre trip to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum, located in nearby Oranienburg on the weekend. Built in 1936, it was originally intended to be one of the ‘model’ concentration camps of Nazi Germany, until design flaws and insufficient capacity were revealed after its operation. However, Sachsenhausen remained as one of the key administrative centres of the network concentration camps during Nazi Germany. In addition, it was used as a training centre for many Schutzstaffel (SS) officers later assigned to other camps.

Grey stones marked the former barracks, with sites documenting the daily terror of the prisoners (Political, Criminals, Communists, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews) imprisoned during Nazi Germany, and during 1945-50 under Soviet occupation. Some prisoners were subjected to medical experimentation; others intensive manual labour, shoe-testing and some were tasked with counterfeiting British Pounds and American Dollars. Stone slabs marked the mass graves within the camp. While it was very confronting to see the execution trench and gas chamber within the camp, the recounts of former prisoners at Sachsenhausen were chilling.

Words fail to convey the gravity of the experience; I highly recommend this visit for anyone who visits Berlin.