Apr 30, 2021

Why the CEF-GIZ Partnership Is a Win-Win

As part of our partner's spotlight interview series, we were happy to talk to Birger Nerré, Team Leader for Strengthening the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Mechanisms in Moldova. Representing Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Mr. Nerré is also a member of the of the CEF Governing Board. Mr. Nerré shared his thoughts about what makes GIZ team unique, why the CEF-GIZ partnership is a win-win relationship, and what has fascinated him about living and working in South East Europe.

Can you please finish the below statements:

GIZ's main vision is to shape a future worth living around the world.

GIZ’s work is important because what would life be like without a future worth living for? Like a rock concert without a band.

GIZ’s team is diverse, motivated, highly skilled, open-minded and determined to contribute to the company’s vision.

In the future, GIZ plans to continue its fruitful cooperation with the CEF in various areas and with diverse instruments. I personally dream of a joint public sector shaping rock concert, we just need to figure out some details first.

There are many partnerships (symbioses) known in the natural world. If you were to compare our partnership to one, which one would you choose?

When you watch National Geographic frequently, you will learn that there are five main types of symbiotic relationships: mutualism, commensalism, predation, parasitism, and competition. Without even explaining in depth what the last three types are, I am pretty confident that neither the CEF nor GIZ can be titled competitors, parasites or predators. In short: we do not plan to eat the CEF, nor to be eaten by the CEF.

Symbioses are classified as a type of commensalism when one species “lives with, on, or in another species” (the host). While the CEF has hosted numerous events, and while GIZ colleagues or me personally have been inside the CEF premises oftentimes to participate in those events, it would still be farfetched to state that GIZ lives in the CEF (or vice versa).

As you might have guessed already – the GIZ-CEF relationship is one of mutualism. And yes, as you might have guessed –in nature, the perfect mutualistic symbiosis is that of the anemone and the clownfish. I can speak from experience: when the anemone in my saltwater fish-tank died, the clownfish were depressed. One named August even tried to escape the tank to search for a new anemone and got stuck in the filter system (no worries, I saved him – true story, they even made a major motion picture out of it later).

I am a little hesitant to define who might be the clownfish and who might be the anemone looking at the two institutions. What I can say for sure is that GIZ is benefitting from the whole concept of the CEF’s knowledge hub and the vast knowledge in the region when it comes to public policies and public finances. On the other hand, I am convinced that the CEF is profiting from GIZ’s strategic knowledge that comes from over 20,000 employees in around 120 countries worldwide.

What are the things you find most interesting and fascinating about South East Europe?

People and food (including ‘rakija’) are very nice in the whole region but let’s not talk about the obvious. My interest started already during my undergrad studies when besides Russian I also learned some Slovenian (I fondly remember my final thesis on the pros and cons of Slovenia’s EU membership). South East Europe is a vibrant region in transformation – still. The breakdown of both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia happened during my lifetime. Ever since, I have dedicated my academic research to the transformation of the public sector in particular. My core interest has always been how national cultures influence this transformation (you got me now – I almost started to talk about tax culture). All in all, there is nothing better than finally being able to put my academic interest into practice. And after almost 15 years, it still amazes me to see the transformation happening in front of my eyes and somehow being part of it, literally.