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World Cup victory sets UK and German ‘high fliers’ in high spirits for a successful 29th British German Forum


By dxw

Wilton Park’s 29th British German Forum convened 50 ‘high fliers’ from Germany and Britain, aged between 25 and 35 to discuss ‘A smarter Europe: cooperation, competition and innovation in the 2020s.’

British German Forum 2014
A smarter Europe: cooperation, competition and innovation in the 2020s

Sunday 13 July – Thursday 17 July 2014 (WP1320)

Chaired by our Visiting Programme Director, Reverend Canon Dr Gary Wilton, this year’s forum kicked off with an opening session on Europe’s transition from 1914 to 2014. Oxford University’s Professor of International History, Patricia Clavin opened discussions with participants debating lessons learnt from Europe’s remarkable transition from conflict to peace.

British Ambassador to Germany, Sir Simon McDonald, and Michael Hinterdobler, Director of the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union, also contributed, considering issues of cooperation and competitiveness from two distinctly different perspectives. A great first day culminated in a brilliant German victory at the World Cup final, putting our participants in high spirits for the following day of discussions.

Later Basak Turkoglu, Deputy Director of European Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara, set the scene for a foreign policy focused discussion, providing Turkish insights into the ideological and institutional competitiveness of the European Union within the context of European financial crisis and instability among the Eastern partners – particularly Ukraine.

A day in London on Tuesday gave participants the opportunity to hear views on the UK’s EU membership from Members of Parliament from the three major parties, followed by lunch kindly hosted by the German Embassy, still celebrating their weekend football success. Both events gave a direct insight into political perspectives on the EU and UK-German relations, allowing participants to venture beyond media reporting. A final session at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office included dynamic discussions on issues such as the new Diplomatic Academy and the FCO’s digital agenda.

The conference finished on a significant high with dinner speeches from the father and son duo of Fritz Lustig, a ‘secret listener’ during World War II, and the BBC broadcaster and journalist, Robin Lustig. Both provided personal accounts of British-German relations over the years, bringing to life and contextualising the concepts discussed throughout the forum and was called a highlight by participants.

Fritz and Robin Lustig at the British German Forum
Fritz and Robin Lustig at the British German Forum

All in all, our 29th group of British and German high fliers left Wilton Park having forged new relationships, been constructively challenged on a number of issues and opinions, and with fresh ideas on how to make the UK, Germany and EU smarter. In trialling our first online feedback questionnaire, they also left the building having contributed to Wilton Park’s continuous improvement project, contributing to a great week for all involved.

Participant feedback included:

  • Great atmosphere for informal mutual exchange, evoking a feeling of coherence, stimulating debates, facilitation, organization and time management, bringing together people from different fields and disciplines
  • The format, breakout groups etc. worked very well. The participants were varied and interesting, allowing for everyone to feel fully involved in different discussions. Gary is a fantastic facilitator who keeps the whole experience fun, engaging and interesting
  • I personally enjoyed the discussions around economics and the private sector of which I had limited experience. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from the formal and informal discussions

Related conferences

2014 British German Forum

2013 British German Forum

2012 British German Forum


My time as a secret listener at Wilton Park in 1943 (Fritz Lustig)

Understanding the rules of international relations (Robin Lustig)

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