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Report: 60th Young Königswinter Conference, 16th July 2020 (online)

The 60th Young Königswinter Conference took place on Zoom on July 16th, 2020. There were 47 participants, about half of them were of German and the other half of British nationality. The conference took place during a particularly difficult time, both in Germany and in Britain, as well as globally. Because of the pandemic the conference was entirely online, but our participants showed “togetherness” from the very start.

The theme of the conference was “In times of radical change, do we need radical new ideas?”
State Secretary Miguel Berger (AA) and Jenny Bates, Director General Europe (FCO) gave the opening statements, followed by a Q&A session with the Young Leaders.
Introductions into the three topics including Q&A sessions with the participants were given by Ludwig Blaurock, Bundeskanzleramt, Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser to the Scottish Government and Anneliese Dodds MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Emerging topics during the discussions were:

  • EU/NATO pillar institutions
  • the need to invest more into the bilateral relationship: we are “partners of choice”, UK and Germany have common values, the geopolitical and economic contexts are challenging, but we agree on vital issues, such as climate change, vaccines, transatlantic security and NATO, trade and security of supply, economic relationship and people to people
  • the pandemic as accelerator of change, in light of this we need to prioritise an economic approach that puts societal and environmental concerns at the forefront, a whole system approach
  • the pandemic has highlighted the importance of being resilient to external shocks, linked to social cohesion
  • Solutions need to look across sectors
  • but also: new forms of social cohesion are being created during the pandemic, particularly on local and communal level, people are taking more care of shared resouces
  • however, it has also highlighted existing inequalities: labour impact of Covid-19 crisis much worse for women, minorities more likely to get Coronavirus and to die from it and research shows that unemployment has a particularly big impact on young peoples’ careers and their mental health
  • a well-being economy (value-led: dignity, respect) aims to fight inequality and to strengthen resilience and cohesiveness