The AICGS project “A German-American Dialogue of the Next Generation: Global Responsibility, Joint Engagement” engages young Americans and Germans in discussions of current issues of concern for the transatlantic relationship. The project participants are young leaders in a variety of fields who have been working together for several months in three groups representing the AICGS Program Areas (Foreign and Domestic Policy; Society, Culture, and Politics; and Business and Economics) with the intent to frame and deliberate on the issues and create solutions to a variety of global challenges facing the United States and Germany. This Briefing highlighted the results of the participants’ work.
Panel I: Forging New Transatlantic Narratives for the 21st Century
The foreign and domestic policy group gave recommendations in six policy fields: Russia/NATO, Brexit, Crisis Management in the Middle East, Climate, Cyber, and Counterterrorism. There was no complete solution, except for more transatlantic cooperation and support. Another thread to the overall discussions was that the EU and Germany must be more explicit to the U.S. about what their needs are. The group also recommended more legislative cooperation, as opposed to deepened executive cooperation.
In regards to Russia and NATO, the U.S. and Germany should maintain sanctions on Russia until it fulfills its Minsk II obligations. In addition, the U.S. pursue a bi-partisan inquiry into the hacking of the U.S. election. The U.S. should also encourage Europeans to spend more on defense while maintaining support for the NATO alliance. The countries should not let Brexit negotiations negatively affect EU-UK security cooperation. A US-UK Free Trade Agreement should be the top priority once Brexit negotiations are finalized. For crisis management in the Middle East, Europeans should increase security commitment but redefine the burden they are willing to share.
Regarding climate, the German government and environmental organizations in the U.S. should underline the economic benefits of a low carbon and green economy and Enhance transatlantic cooperation beyond the government-to-government level. For cooperation on cyber policy, the group recommended establishing a permanent network of experts to pool information to enhance defensive capabilities and mitigate attributing problems and maintaining the dialogue about privacy/data protection concerns and consider reforming the contested EU-US privacy shield. In counter terrorism efforts, it is important to maintain collaboration despite personal differences. Legislatures, ministries, and civil society groups all have important parts to play in combating extremism. Parliaments should expand antiradicalization programs, focusing on phone hotlines and detention centers.
Panel II: Civil Society in a Time of Uncertainty
The United States and Germany already have a strong bond in the civil society realm. The society, culture, and politics group did not recommend inventing new channels for cooperation, but rather deepen the existing points of access between the U.S. and Germany. They focused on recommendations in two categories, German-American relations and German-American cooperation on the international level.
To deepen bilateral relations, the group gave eight recommendations:
- Increase German funding for bilateral exchanges.
- Better coordination of existing German-American organizations.
- A new, bilateral media platform for young people.
- A bilateral forum for media networking and exchanges.
- Bilateral research partnerships between academics to understand the reasons for and meanings of “fake news,” in conjunction with discussions about managing digital space.
- Bringing together German and American civil rights organizations.
- Exchange lessons to strengthen civic education (politische Bildung).
- Private sector initiatives to further worker and training exchanges.
To support German and American cooperation at the international level, the group gave six recommendations:
- Increase German soft power.
- Joint fostering of civil society in Afghanistan.
- Intensify German’s political leadership role on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- Joint support to foster cross-border civil society and reconciliation in the Middle East.
- German-U.S. declaration by main business associations, promoting the value of open trade as part of a larger, civil society-led public diplomacy effort on trade.
- German-U.S. corporate social responsibility with local civil society actors in situations of transitional justice, peace, and reconciliation.
Panel III: Why International Economic Cooperation is no Zero-Sum Game: How to Safeguard Trust and Confidence in Transatlantic Relations
The business and economics group began with the assumption that the U.S. and Germany should maintain the established rules-based system and maintain stability. To do this, the group recommended recalibrating the debate on international trade, promoting U.S. and EU core interests through international cooperation, and restoring trust and confidence in the transatlantic economic relationship.
Trade was central to the group’s discussions, as the U.S. administration has made it a central component of economic and foreign policy rhetoric and the fact that trade is crucial to Germany’s export-based economy. The group recommends challenging trade myths, addressing valid concerns about trade, and highlighting benefits of trade in new ways to make it more attractive to the current U.S. policymakers.
To promote core interest through international cooperation, the group recommended making use of existing international institutions such as the G20 and WTO. Financial and economic cooperation benefits US and EU, and it is in the self-interest of the U.S. to engage with EU as a single actor. Regarding restoring trust, the EU should refrain from seeking a moral high ground. Both the United States and Germany should use multiple channels of communication and identify new areas for transatlantic cooperation.