The British German Forum 2013 The European Union: EUseful or EUseless?
22 July, 2013
Three and a half days’ excellent discussion threw into sharper relief the strength of the British-German bilateral relationship and highlighted the common concerns and interests that Britain and Germany share in the European project.
British German Forum
The future of Europe: relevance and effectiveness in the 21st century?
Sunday 14 – Thursday 18 July 2013 (WP1231)
Three and a half days of discussion, 31 speakers, five breakout group sessions and a day of meetings in London: the pace of this year’s British-German Forum was matched only by the enthusiasm and passion of the participants.
The Forum covered a diverse range of topics including: the historical context of the European project; the challenges and opportunities of social media growth for democracies; the dynamics of political identity in Europe; and the extent to which common values bind the member states into the European Union.
Participation also came from a diverse set of sources – with young leaders from the private, public and charitable sectors all sharing their opinions and perspectives in an inclusive and collegial manner.
By the end of the programme there was an overall feeling that the UK and Germany have more in common than they might otherwise have expected through consumption of news media. A range of different perspectives on the relevance and effectiveness of the EU were present throughout the Forum, but these views did not necessarily relate to the nationality of the discussants.
Our German colleagues were pleasantly surprised by the depth of positive yet critical thinking about the EU in the UK especially with respect to Parliamentarians. Meanwhile, British participants learned that the German perspective on the European project is at least as complicated as that in the UK, and not easily reducible to stereotypes often encountered in the media.
The British-German Forum highlighted that the European project is still seen as relevant – especially in the context of the current crisis. However, participants found less room for consensus on whether the present institutional architecture of the EU remains effective enough to cope with this crisis and justify its existence going forward. Views on this latter point were more varied, but once again not easily reducible to national stereotypes.
This year’s BGF was, again, a further reminder of the strength of bilateral ties between our two countries, and Wilton Park hopes that the friendships and professional relationships formed during the event will continue and prove prosperous long into the future.