Did you know that the EU brings people together to work across borders and protect you and millions of other citizens? Whether they’re preparing to rush to the scene of an emergency in the blink of an eye, researching the cure for a mysterious condition, or working to make your area a little greener; together these ordinary heroes make Europe a better place to live.  

Coordinated by the EU, they protect your homes, friends, families and jobs, and these are their stories.


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Lars Lau

National Coordinator for SIRENE (a network that relays information from the Schengen Information System [SIS])


Lars is a case officer at the SIRENE Bureau in Germany, which coordinates the exchange of security alerts and information with national authorities in other European countries. In October 2018, Lars was alerted by his Bulgarian colleagues that the suspect in a Bulgarian murder case had fled to Germany. Lars was responsible for coordinating the exchange of crucial information between the Bulgarian and German police. His work made the arrest of the murder suspect possible.

Carsten Witt

Stade Police department


Carsten was the lead investigator in Germany working on the murder of a Bulgarian journalist in October 2018. He coordinated the arrest of the suspect, a Bulgarian citizen who had fled to Germany. Carsten instructed his colleagues while they carried out an operation at the suspect’s hideout. After the arrest, he took charge of the investigation that eventually led to the suspect’s extradition to Bulgaria.

Andrea Würz

German, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


Andrea has worked in the communication team of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control since 2006. She is part of a team that develops vaccination awareness-raising and communication support activities. She prepares guides and tools to help EU countries communicate with citizens about the importance of vaccination to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. She also meets regularly with vaccination experts from European countries to discuss common challenges and share best practices.

Carsten Noormann



Carsten has been a fisherman on the North Sea coast since he was 16 years old. He currently participates in the EU’s Fishing for Litter programme, an imaginative yet simple initiative that aims to reduce marine litter. Through the project, he collects all the plastic objects caught in his fishing nets so they can be recycled.

Matthias Kschammer

German, Competition department, European Commission


Matthias joined the European Commission over 6 years ago and worked on the truck cartel case from the very beginning. Although such cases can be challenging, Matthias finds it rewarding to investigate companies and identify the patterns of behaviour and communication that point to anti-competitive behaviour. A former Berlin-based lawyer specialising in tax and business law, Matthias values working for the European idea of a free market that benefits citizens.

Dr Jan Hoffbauer

Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety


As part of the Food and Feed Safety Alerts (RASFF) unit in Germany, Jan deals with issues related to human food consumption but also animal feed and pet food. He also works on the safety of food packaging and Food Contact Material.  When checking these things, Jan and his colleagues are on the hunt for anything that may be harmful to EU citizens’ health: from allergens, pesticides and pathogenic bacteria, to unauthorised colourings, heavy metals and foreign bodies like pieces of glass.

RASFF is a system for the immediate reporting of food safety issues within the EU.

Martin Münd

Counterfeit Banknote Expert, European Central Bank


Martin is an expert in counterfeit banknotes at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. Specialised in printing, he knows the ins and outs of the counterfeiters’ trade. His main tasks are to examine and analyse banknotes according against a series of technical specifications. While recognising whether a banknote is genuine or counterfeit may seem relatively simple, investigating how it has been produced and which security features have been printed with which degree of precision offers many precious details about the counterfeiters' work. Monitoring the counterfeiters' capacities in the whole euro area also helps design new banknotes with more effective security features – as is the case with the new series currently being issued.

Oliver Christ

Customs, Port of Hamburg


Oliver is a senior customs inspector at the customs clearance office in Hamburg. It’s his job to check that declarations are valid and that goods entering the EU fully conform to the rules. This is no mean feat given that 30,000 containers are handled at the port every day. 

Thomas Henrichs

German, Air Quality unit, European Commission


In 2014 Thomas joined the Clean Air Unit within the European Commission’s environment department. His work focuses on making sure that the EU’s rules on outdoor air quality are met so that all Europeans can breathe cleaner air and suffer from fewer pollution-related diseases.

Anke Lükewille

German, European Environment Agency


Anke joined the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen more than 12 years ago to monitor and assess air pollution across EU countries. Since 2000, she has seen pollution levels drop, but problems persist. She is motivated by the belief that the only way to combat air pollution is to work together across borders.

Hans Kuhn

German, Altona Diagnostics


Hans works for Altona Diagnostics in Hamburg, Germany, which provides portable diagnosis kits. Thanks to these kits, EMLabs (EU-funded mobile labs in Europe and Africa) were able to test and diagnose people with Ebola in a fast and efficient way in remote rural areas in the West African region. When the disease hit West Africa in 2014, EU-supported mobile labs used the diagnosis kits to get patients with symptoms tested.

Olaf Fischer

Criminal Investigation Division against Organised Crime


Olaf is head of the Criminal Investigation Division against Organised Crime at the Polizeipräsidium Karlsruhe. His team is used to supporting investigations in other European countries. July 2017 was no exception, when it was confirmed that an organised criminal network was using German businesses to transport money and drugs to Italy and Spain. On 5 July, Olaf’s team raided three apartments and businesses linked to organised crime, seizing property and cars worth around €5 million.

Markus Walldorf

German, Trade department, European Commission


Markus is a case handler for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade in Belgium. His diplomatic skills and experience in TDI activities played a major role during the ceramic tiles investigation. He investigated whether unfair trade had taken place by asking Chinese exporters for information on their sales, profits and production costs. Then Markus travelled with his colleague to Guangzhou, China, to verify this information at the premises of the companies that had decided to cooperate. As an official with long-standing experience in external audits, he reviewed the company’s records and documents in an objective and impartial way in a limited amount of time.

Nicolin Heister

Corlife lab


Nicolin is head of regulatory affairs at Corlife, a company that specialises in developing innovations in the field of heart surgery. For 2 EU-funded heart valve transplant initiatives, ESPOIR and ARISE, Corlife has prepared the new heart valves by removing their cells (‘decellularisation’) before sending them out to the hospitals participating in both programmes.

Prof Axel Haverich

Hannover Medical School


Axel is head of the Department of Cardiothoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery at Hannover Medical School. He began to look at alternatives to standard heart valves more than 20 years ago. As coordinator of ESPOIR, the EU-funded project on pulmonary valves, Axel and his team developed a new heart valve transplant technique involving the removal of cells from biological heart valves (otherwise known as ‘decellularisation’). In 1995 he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for outstanding researchers.

Lotte Krüger

German, ARCHELON – Sea Turtle Protection Society


Lotte is a volunteer with the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece (ARCHELON). She takes part in the EU LIFE Euroturtles project, which aims to raise awareness and improve the conservation status of sea turtles in Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia. As part of the project, she works closely with the Greek national parks to make sure regulations are followed to protect turtle populations.

Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

German, Founder & Director of Lie Detectors


Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck is the founder of Lie Detectors, an award-winning, independent news-literacy project that aims to teach schoolchildren in Europe to think more critically in the face of ever-growing propaganda and distorted facts crowding their YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat accounts, and to understand how ethical journalism works. As of summer 2019, the organisation has sent more than 120 journalists into schools to deliver classroom sessions to raise awareness among more than 8,500 students in Germany, Belgium and Austria. Lie Detectors also promotes positive, non-political contact between young people and journalists. The organisation sends reporters into schools to deliver interactive classroom sessions. Lie Detectors has won the European Commission’s 2018 EU Digital skills award in recognition of its initiatives to improve the digital skills of Europeans at work and in the classroom.

Sandra Hack

European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority


Sandra has helped develop the pan-European personal pension product (PEPP), a new scheme designed to support citizens across Europe save for retirement. Sandra and her team at the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority were asked by the European Commission to provide advice on personal pension products in Europe. In consulting with industry and stakeholders, they created the PEPP; a new type of voluntary personal pension product which applies even if the person changes jobs or moves countries. It also provides consumers with clear information to facilitate them make decisions about their saving choices. Sandra is proud that her work will help young people today save for a better retirement tomorrow.

Yvonne Schmerfeld

European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority


Yvonne works for the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) as an economist. She is specialised in the financial supervision of insurance companies operating across borders in different EU countries. If a European insurance company operating in different countries comes into trouble, Yvonne is responsible for organising a cooperation platform, which encourages dialogue between the different national supervisory authorities involved. This is to ensure that all national supervisory authorities share relevant information and manage consumer complaints so that European policy-holders and consumers are properly protected.

Sylvia Geiger-Cludts

European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority


Sylvia has worked as part of the Communications Team at the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) in Frankfurt since 2016. She considers pensions to be a complicated but important part of people’s lives. Sylvia answers questions from European citizens ranging from the very technical to more general queries about insurance and pensions. She is proud to be a direct contact point for European citizens, and she welcomes visitors so they can learn about the work of EIOPA.