Press release: DBG successfully concludes 2022, looks ahead to new chapter in UK-German relations

Despite the postponement of the 72nd Königswinter Conference due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the German-British Society can look back on a successful past year with three organised Königswinter Conferences, the first Conference of the DBG Network and the Young Königswinter Alumni Climate Dialogue. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, all conferences were held in person only.

The year 2023 began with an important bilateral exchange on security policy issues at the 11th Defence Königswinter Conference at the Federal Academy for Security Policy, which was attended by, among others, Parliamentary State Secretary Siemtje Möller, MdB, Dr Norbert Röttgen, MdB, Dr Johann Wadephul, MdB, Dr Jens Zimmermann, MdB and on the British side Minister of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey MP and Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP as well as various representatives of industry and think tanks. The conference was chaired by Dr Claudia Major and Air Chief Marshal Lord Peach.

Next up is the 63rd Jung Königswinter Conference (21 – 25 July 2023) at the Europäische Akademie Berlin, for which the Society received a record number of applications this year. Conference Co-Chairs are, as last year, the British author and journalist John Kampfner, as well as this year’s new addition, the Vice-Chair of the Young Königswinter Alumni, Dr Birgit Bujard.

A special highlight this year will be the 73rd Königswinter Conference, which the DBG will host in person in Germany for the first time since 2019. It will take place in September at Schloss Neuhardenberg in Brandenburg.

The year 2023 is a special year for German-British relations for many reasons. The state visit of King Charles III, and in particular his speech in the Bundestag in which he emphasised the deep and close friendship between our two countries, as well as the adoption of the Windsor Framework to resolve the Northern Ireland issues caused by Brexit, represent a new chapter in the bilateral relationship.

Chairman Thomas Matussek said: “The state visit has deepened the good and close relationship between our two countries, not least the emotional relationship between our two peoples. It became clear: Brexit has not left any major damage. In this respect, too, the visit was a complete success.”

There was also a lively discussion on the state of the German-British relationship at the DBG’s AGM on 9 May. Members also emphasised the difficulties, especially in terms of youth exchange, caused by Brexit. The General Assembly discharged the Board and elected a new Board member: Dr Sven Janssen is the new treasurer of the DBG with immediate effect, replacing Dr Karl-Peter Schackmann-Fallis, who successfully held the office for a long time.
Sven Janssen is a founding partner and Managing Director of Tradition Meets Future GmbH, an investment platform specialising in debt financing for European growth companies. He studied economics and political science at universities in France, Germany, the USA and the UK and completed his doctorate on the topic of British and German banking strategies.

Commenting on his appointment, Sven Janssen says: “It is a great honour for me, after almost 25 years of commitment to the Anglo-German Association, to be able to make a further structural contribution to this extremely important bilateral relationship within Europe as a member of the Board together with my colleagues. Particularly in the visibly challenging period of geopolitical and economic change, it is urgent – for every individual, every entrepreneur and business – to now take initiative and commitment and follow through with action.”

Aspects of these challenges were also presented in an excellent contribution by Dr Jens Zimmermann, MdB, Chairman of the German-British Parliamentary Group, who rounded off the evening. Like the members in the previous discussion, Jens Zimmermann also emphasised that the Brexit consequences are now becoming clear, especially in the area of youth exchange and education. He thus underlined the importance of German-British cooperation, also on a civil society level, as provided by the German-British Society and other actors.

Civil society faces a particular challenge and responsibility precisely because many institutional ties to the UK have been severed as a result of Brexit. The two foreign ministers therefore explicitly emphasised the importance of the Königswinter Conference in their 2021 declaration.

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