Wilton Park’s British German Forum celebrated its 30th anniversary this July and this year’s discussions focused on preparing for an uncertain global future.
We brought together 50 influential young Britons and Germans working in business, finance, government, politics, media, academia and civil society to participate in our four day residential workshop at Wiston House.
Key points to come out of the meeting:
- One of Europe’s major problems is its tendency to introspection. Given the intractability of the internal problems in Europe and the Eurozone at present, including instability of the Greek economy, large scale migration into the continent, instability on its southern and eastern borders, it is not clear whether the EU will be able to realise its potential as a credible global actor.
- Messaging is a key area where the EU could do better both in delivering on its promises, and in the coherence of messaging across member states. It does not need to be “all things to all people”, but the EU is urged to state clearly what it plans to deliver and then follow through.
- The UK and Germany have much common ground, though Brexit looms large and will continue to do so until the UK referendum about its EU membership in 2017. Forum participants argued that the UK could and should be a full partner in the European project, however due to the fact that the UK is distracted by its internal debate on membership it is more absent now than at any point in recent memory. The group came to broad agreement, however, that most key decision makers in both countries want the UK to remain an EU member.
- Building resilience now and in future means harnessing new technologies, new forms of engagement, and new methods of communication. This includes non-state actors participating in the conversation, finding carbon neutral ways for countries to develop, and providing education, skills, and social security to citizens commensurate with the challenges they are likely to face in coming decades.