Germany and the Netherlands enjoy wide-ranging, close and friendly bilateral relations at both governmental and civil-society level. There are intensive contacts between the two countries’ members of government and parliament at national, regional and local level. High-level visits include the visit to Bremen on 6 March 2019 by the royal couple, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima, and their working visit to Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Land Brandenburg from 20 to 22 May 2019. On 16 May 2019, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with the Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, in Berlin. On 15 March 2019, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Netherlands counterpart Stef Blok met in Berlin. The second German-Netherlands intergovernmental consultations were held in Eindhoven on 21 April 2016. They focused on innovation and the digital economy. The Netherlands is one of Germany’s closest political, economic and EU partners.
The German-Netherlands Forum has been held every two years since 1996. It brings together members of civil society from both countries, as well as representatives of the political, business and cultural sectors, to discuss issues of common interest, thus fostering better mutual understanding in the political and economic spheres and in civil society. The 14th meeting of the German-Netherlands Forum was held in Berlin on 17 and 18 January 2017 and focused on migration and integration.
At regional level, cross-border cooperation plays an important role, especially through the five Euroregions. These are voluntary associations of public-law bodies in the German-Netherlands border region, with regional authorities – and in some cases chambers of commerce and chambers of crafts and trades – playing a particularly important part in cross-border cooperation. An internet portal (www.grenzinfopunkt.eu) provides information for cross-border commuters.
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The Netherlands is Germany’s second most important trading partner in the world after China, and thus its most important European trading partner. Bilateral trade (imports and exports) amounted to approximately 189 billion euros in 2018. The port of Rotterdam plays an important role in trade for Germany. Tourism in both directions is a further element in economic relations between the two countries.
Germany and the Netherlands enjoy very close relations in all areas (art, music, theatre, dance, literature, film etc.) and at a very high level of the education and cultural sectors.
There is close cooperation between universities, schools and vocational training centres. This includes exchanges of academics, teachers, pupils, students and trainees, as well as cooperation between museums, foundations and other cultural institutions. Some 22,000 Germans are currently studying in the Netherlands. Both countries promote their neighbour’s language, especially in the border region. Support is also given to school partnerships, youth and student exchange programmes and cooperation in vocational training. The Euroregion bodies make an important contribution here.
There are some 700 cooperation agreements between universities (especially at institute and department level) and non-university research institutions (Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Research Centres, Fraunhofer Institutes and academies).
Three German-Netherlands cultural foundations (Deutsche Bibliothek Den Haag, Genootschap Nederland-Duitsland and Stichting Cultuur en Communicatie) are active in fostering bilateral cultural relations through literary readings, music events and lectures, discussion evenings and film Screenings.