A new chapter in German-British friendship

A new chapter in the rich and multifaceted history of German-British relations began on 1 January 2021. It will continue the close cooperation between the United Kingdom and Germany which has developed over the last 70 years. Over the decades, close and amicable ties have grown between the two countries in all areas of the state, economy and society.

The last 20 years in particular have injected new momentum into German-British friendship. Thanks to Erasmus and other programmes, hundreds of thousands of young academics have been given the opportunity to get to know the partner country well. The cooperation between the two countries’ civil societies was close and marked by a great measure of mutual trust and many similarities in structures, positions and judgements, including some stretching back into history. As energetic champions of free trade and open markets, German and British policymakers and business communities were able to foster liberal and market-economy maxims in the European Union. And not least on foreign and security policy issues, there was a consensus – not always but on key points – which had an influence on others.

The Königswinter Conferences, organised every year by the Gesellschaft with its British partner and with the support of the two governments, provide a platform for drawing up and formulating joint positions in a format that has never been established with another country. The conferences have fostered trust and helped establish friendships.

Despite the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, we still have a whole host of shared interests, for example

  • our economic ties, which remain close,,
  • the need for a new security architecture for Europe,
  • the congruent positions which have to be put forward together in numerous international organisations, for example the United Nations, NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and others,
  • the two countries’ continued strategic geopolitical global interests,
  • the ongoing need for joint endeavours in the spheres of research and education,
  • the issue, which has become more urgent, of ensuring through youth exchanges, town twinning arrangements and other programmes that the existing ties do not break down and allowing new ones to develop.

The Deutsche-Britische Gesellschaft will therefore make every possible effort to intensify the dialogue in these areas and to shape its work more intensively and in a more targeted manner. It shares its outlook with many other movements, organisations and institutions in the UK and in Germany, especially the British German Association, London, the UK Koenigswinter Steering Committee and the members of the network of German-British associations in Germany.

In particular, the Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft will continue the Königswinter process, which has been successful for more than 70 years. The traditional Königswinter Conference (with multipliers from the world of politics, the business community, finance, academia and civil society), held annually and alternating between Germany and the UK, will continue to be the leading German-British forum for a free, frank, personal and confidential exchange of views. The conference is intended to ensure better mutual understanding of developments in the state and society in both countries, thus preventing misunderstandings. This also applies to the other Königswinter Conferences in the spheres of business and finance as well as security and defence.

The Young Königswinter Conferences, which – especially in the last few years – have become increasingly popular in both countries, is of particular importance to the future of German-British relations. It is up to young people to ensure that future generations cultivate and expand German-British friendship; the Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft wants to be part of this development. The network of 12 branches of the Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft in Germany will continue to contribute towards the understanding of British affairs in Germany through lecture and discussion events of high quality.

The sentiment expressed by Prince Charles in Berlin on 15 November 2020 provide inspiration and orientation for all our activities: “We will always be friends, partners and allies.”