Belgium and Germany share important joint interests and work closely and well together. As founding members of the EU, they have forged close ties through decades of joint efforts to build and deepen the Union and their shared views on its future course and approaches to the current challenges. Belgium also shares security interests with the EU. Belgium and Germany liaise closely on international and economic issues, including in the European Council. The two countries work together in multilateral missions in Afghanistan (Resolute Support), Mali (EUTM) and Lithuania (NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence). They are also working closely together in 2019 and 2020 as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Germany is the most important partner country for Belgium’s export sector, while Belgium is Germany’s eleventh largest trading partner and the BENELUX countries are its second largest trading partner after the Visegrad states. In 2018, the trade volume between Germany and Belgium totalled approximately 90.5 billion euros. The two countries have an almost even trade balance, with Belgium slightly ahead (Germany Trade and Invest). Antwerp is a major port for Germany, particularly for Land Rhineland-Palatinate, for both imports and exports. Germany’s main investments in Belgium are in the chemical industry in Antwerp, car manufacturing in Brussels and aviation, as well as increasingly in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. A large number of German companies have a branch in Belgium.
Germany’s cultural relations policy in Belgium focuses on promoting the German language in schools and universities, awarding scholarships, and running exchange programmes and travel and award schemes, often in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut in Brussels. The German-Belgian Cultural Agreement of 24 September 1956 provides the legal basis for this cultural work. As the language spoken by the German minority in east Belgium, German is the country’s third official language. A series of Germany Year programmes organised by universities in recent years has presented a modern image of Germany. Commemoration of the two world wars often plays an important part in cultural activities.