Philipp Mißfelder, the Federal Government’s new Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation, on the German-American partnership (www.deutschland.de; 20.03.2014).
Mr. Mißfelder, at the beginning of 2014 you assumed the post of Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation. What do you see as your priorities in the coming years?
As Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation, I shall be actively supporting the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States. This would bring huge economic benefits for both sides. Free trade offers enormous advantages. German business expects the agreement to generate additional investment worth billions. As an exporting nation, Germany must continue to increase its global competitiveness and act as a driving force to promote free trade. Another focus of my work is deepening cooperation with Jewish organizations, including those in the United States and Canada. I maintain a very good relationship with the relevant interest groups in Germany. Expanding and deepening relations with American Jewish organizations is very important to me.
Negotiations between the United States and the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have recently stalled. What, in your view, is important in working out this agreement?
Negotiations on the free trade agreement with the U.S. must move ahead swiftly and be brought to a conclusion. Given the changed global balance of power, good and close transatlantic relations are more important than ever, on the economic front as well. Germany is the U.S.’s principal European trading partner. On both sides of the Atlantic, our countries benefit from the lively exchange of goods, services and innovations. At international level, we strongly support free global trade in order to secure prosperity and economic growth for coming generations. Consumers in Germany would benefit from falling prices and, according to initial calculations, per capita purchasing power would increase by 1.6%. The harmonization of licensing procedures would also enable new products to be brought to market more quickly and made available to consumers in both countries. The Conclusion of the free trade agreement would represent a huge step forward in economic cooperation between the United States and Germany. It is essential that this succeed, in the interest of both sides.
Canada has recently made progress in its negotiations on a free trade agreement with the EU.
After several years of negotiations, the EU and Canada have finally agreed on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Both sides will reap huge economic benefits from their markets being opened up. The agreement will ensure increased economic growth as well as creating jobs. And we expect the same effects, on an even larger scale, from a free trade agreement with the United States. We need to bring negotiations to a swift conclusion so that people in both countries can benefit from the agreement.
You made foreign policy a priority early on in your political career. To what extent can you draw on your experience here in your new position?
Since 2009, I’ve been the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group’s Foreign Policy Spokesman in the Bundestag – a job I’m very passionate about. And for the past six years, I’ve been a member of the Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. Reaffirming the deep friendship between the United States and Germany has always been a key concern in my work. I’m also actively engaged in efforts to improve mutual understanding between our two countries as a board member of the Atlantik-Brücke association. Another focus of my work is German-Israeli friendship. Germany stands by Israel. Commitment to the State of Israel’s right to exist is part of Germany’s raison d’état.
The German-American relationship is also shaped by the work of numerous organizations and associations. How important is this engagement?
The engagement of German-American associations and organizations plays a major role in developing and cultivating the friendship between Germany and the United States. Transatlantic relations are being developed and strengthened not only in the political and economic spheres but also in civil society. This means that German-American friendship deeply affects people’s lives in Germany and is lived on a daily basis. Jewish organizations are especially close to my heart here. They are active in the United States and Germany and are doing excellent work in politics and society.
You have long been regarded as a committed transatlanticist. What do bilateral relations mean to you personally?
It’s not only our countries that are bound together by a deep friendship. Like many other people in Germany, I feel a strong connection to the U.S. and Canada through my relations with friends, acquaintances and colleagues there. Even before being appointed Coordinator, I made frequent visits to these countries – both privately and on official business. These trips hold a lot of fond memories for me. I look forward to further strengthening these contacts in my work as Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation. ▪
Interview: Johannes Göbel.