INTERNSHIP AT FNF
Fritz Kuermayr: A little closer to the world of liberalism
"Through Austrian Service Abroad, I had the opportunity to work in the service of liberalism in the Mediterranean region and in Vietnam. From September 2022 to July 2023, I had the chance to get involved directly in the Office for Spain, Italy, Portugal and Mediterranean Dialogue as well as in the Project Office in Hanoi."
My Friedrich Naumann Foundation-trip started in autumn 2022 at the project office in Madrid. Once I arrived in the Spanish capital, I was immediately integrated into the office and had the opportunity to get involved from the very beginning. The first event was in my second week, the "Recepción de Otoño". There I got a remarkable impression of how broad the FNF network is locally. Furthermore, I was able to get to know the youth wing of Ciudadanos, the party which promotes liberalism in Spain. Many friendships were made here right at the start.
Over the course of the week, I got a deep impression of the range of projects with which the Foundation promotes the liberal cause throughout the Mediterranean region: from the Euthenia network for women entrepreneurs in Spain to a documentary film on the topic of diversity to the accompaniment of important personalities from politics and business. But I also quickly found my way into the daily office routine. The atmosphere in the office was always excellent, and I still have fond memories of lunches together.
I was allowed to be involved in a wide range of things: I planned the travel of guests to our events, took on various coordinating functions at the many events, maintained the database and much more.
If I had to pick out one event as a highlight, it would probably be the roundtable on the energy transition. There, the importance of the Mediterranean Dialogue project became apparent: Together with experts from the Maghreb region, obstacles to cooperation between North Africa and the EU were discussed, which stand in the way of a closer partnership, especially in renewable energy. These are exactly the talks we need to have in order to promote sustainable prosperity.
At the beginning of February, I left for a completely new assignment: Hanoi, Vietnam. The fastest-growing country in the South-East Asia region was appealing to me for many reasons. After a socio-political focus in Madrid, liberal core topics such as free trade and economic policy were what awaited me here. Vietnam is one of the countries that has seen one of the fastest rises in the economic freedom index in the last decade. It is seen by the EU as one of the key countries when it comes to diversification away from China worldwide.
Arriving in Hanoi's cold start of the year, I was warmly welcomed by the Foundation's Vietnam Country Director Prof. Andreas Stoffers and his team. After an initial settling-in period, I became more and more familiar with the Foundation's work in Vietnam. Through various research assignments, from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to the implementation of the global minimum tax in Vietnam to the analysis of the inflation situation in Vietnam for a project with the renowned economist Prof. Hermann Simon, I was able to get a more detailed picture of the situation in the country. Besides the daily but always diverse activities in the office, I was allowed to represent the FNF at various networking events. Through business trips, such as to our partner region Bac Giang Province in the north, I got an impression of the reality of life in a country so far away from the life we know in the West. It was horizon-expanding to have conversations with people on the ground and thus gain perspectives on global issues from a completely different angle.
It was horizon-expanding to have conversations with people on the ground and thus gain perspectives on global issues from a completely different angle.
My colleagues in both Madrid and Hanoi have grown very close to my heart and I have been able to grow significantly as a person through them and with them. I am infinitely grateful for the experiences, insights and learnings that I was able to make during my work and I am convinced that this time has left a lasting impression on me. Hopefully, many more young people will be able to take advantage of this opportunity and stand up for freedom in all its forms worldwide.
Finally, I would like to thank Mr Jules Maatens and Ms Constanze Sturm as well as the directors of the offices in Madrid and Hanoi, Mr David Henneberger and Prof. Andreas Stoffers, whose openness to unconventional approaches made my service abroad at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation possible in the first place./.
*This article was written by Fritz Kuermayr, Intern at FNF's Madrid and Hanoi offices from September 2022 to July 2023.