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Belgian Embassy Expands 2015 Belgo-German Conference

April 02nd, 2014

News from Berlin - The fourth Belgo-German Conference, which took place on February 17th was again hailed as a success. This year’s edition saw the focus being put on current European political issues. The event was located at the German Foreign Ministry and was divided into four different discussion panels.

The first pillar was mainly on the role of European neighbours and their respective structure. Here, Belgium and Germany are seen as two special cases, as no other member state of the EU has so many neighbour countries as Germany and there is no EU country that speaks more languages than Belgium. In light of this, there will be speeches and interactions including Rudy Demotte, Prime Minister of the Walloon government, and Dr. Angelica Schwall-Düren, Minister of Federal Affairs, Europe and Media of the German Bundesland Nordrhein-Westfalen.

The second panel discussion was dedicated to the overall theme of ‘Living in Europe, Experiencing Europe’. At the moment there are 70,000 Germans living in Belgium and 27,000 Belgians living in Germany. The relation between the economies and societies is supported by a large number of interest groups and organizations. It also contributes to the EU, Brussels is a home for more than 10,000 Germans. In Berlin, approximately 2,000 former inhabitants of Brussels are housed. In an interconnected Europe, Germans and Belgians are strongly connected with each other. This discussion included speakers such as  Kris Peeters, Prime Minister of the Flemish government, and Dr. Sabine Hepperle, Federal Minister of Economy and Energy.

Thirdly, a German-Belgian parliamentary discussion took place to discuss answers to an array of European issues in the afternoon. Belgium and Germany both have strong parliamentary democracies which include the Bundesrat, House and Senate.

Few other countries have so many and strong parliamentarians. Guest speeches were held by Georg Fahrenschon, President of the Deutscher Sparkassen and Christian Behrendt Professor of constitutional law at the University of Liège.

“Europe for the younger generation. More democracy in the European intern decision making process” was the final theme that was discussed at the conference. As citizens of federal states, Belgians and Germans both have a special vision on the opportunities and challenges of integration and civil participation. Here, the question of what special contribution can be made for Belgium and Germany, particularly from the perspective of youth was dissected. Speakers included Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan hc, President of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance, and Prof. Dr. Jonathan Holslag, Professor at the Free University of Brussels and leader of the Think Tank; "Friday Group".

At the conclusion of the event the European Movement Germany, which co-organised the event, summarised the day’s discussions and called on policy makers to be the pace setters for Europe. Due to the conference’s massive success, the Belgian embassy has recently decided to organise a bigger event next year.

News from Berlin - Berlin Global