The Foreign Ministers talking to students at the 12th German Netherlands Forum
© photothek / Trutschel
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle opened the 12th German‑Netherlands Forum together with his Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans in Berlin on 27 November. This year’s motto is “The future of Europe and our future in Europe”.
In his opening address, Minister Westerwelle emphasized that the Netherlands and Germany “have been the closest partners in the European Union for more than fifty years.” As founding partners, they worked together towards a better Europe. From the start of European integration, the question had not been whether a country was ‘big’ or ‘small’, he stated. Rather, Europe was a “project among equals”, a cooperation project among equal partners. According to Westerwelle, this was the spirit to which the Nobel Peace Prize wanted to pay tribute.
Preserving and further developing what has been achieved
In view of the current debt crisis, Westerwelle warned against calling into questions all that has been achieved to date. “If we reverse a part of Europe, we must not kid ourselves that this will not affect the other achievements.” Freedoms such as the freedom to travel must not be taken for granted. Westerwelle made clear that Europe was facing major challenges. He added that over the next five to ten years Europe’s task was to hold its own in a changing world.
The Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans emphasized that young people take Europe for granted. According to him, this was both good and dangerous. After all, what has been created by human beings could also be destroyed by human beings, especially in times of crisis. He added that European societies must develop a new understanding of how what is done at European level is also good for a new social market economy in the EU member states.
Europe seen from the German and Dutch angle
Talking to each other to learn from each other: The German‑Netherlands Forum serves precisely this purpose. Discussion groups comprising civil society representatives from the two countries jointly review the expectations placed in European integration and the possibilities for a stronger and better Europe from the German and the Dutch angle.
One of the Forum’s focuses is the young generation in Europe. The two Ministers discussed with students the topic “Young people in Europe – the future in Europe”. On 28 November, students are to present their ideas and expectations as regards Europe’s future.
The Forum will also deal with the current debt crisis, Europe in the media and, shortly before the start of the European Year of Citizens in 2013, the European Union serving its citizens. Numerous high‑ranking guests will participate in the event.
Last updated 27.11.2012