The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken not only our social, but also our economic lives across the globe. Companies and governments around the world have had to adapt to changed economic conditions. At the Ambassadors Conference Business Forum on 8 June, some 1500 decision-makers from the fields of diplomacy, business and politics held discussions on sustainable economic reconstruction. Their exchange took place under the heading “New Deal: Europe and America Side by Side Again – A Possible Way Out of the COVID-19 Economic Crisis?”. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised that disengagement and protectionism cannot be our response to the crisis:
As an export-oriented country and an open European Union, we need open and resilient markets that protect and create jobs. Our response can therefore only be more international cooperation, not less.
Economic resilience as the foundation of European sovereignty
One of the EU’s responses to the crisis was a comprehensive recovery programme, which is now being implemented. However, the crisis has also shown how vulnerable global supply chains are. That is why transatlantic cooperation, as well as cooperation within the EU, must be stepped up, for example to strengthen innovation and rules-based international trade. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised the following:
Only a sovereign European Union is a strong and attractive international partner.
Only a sovereign EU can harness its own strength on the world stage and shape a crisis-proof future. At a time when technological advantage has become a decisive power resource, this means that we in Europe must have key technologies of our own at our disposal and also develop them.
Dialogue between business and diplomacy
The second day of the Conference of the Heads of German Missions has traditionally been devoted to exchanges with the worlds of business and politics. Together with guests from politics and the business community, the diplomats discussed transatlantic cooperation in trade policy and on climate protection. Further panels considered issues of robust economic diplomacy, good corporate governance and an autonomous EU trade policy, as well as innovation and the opportunities offered by the new pan-African free trade area.