Germany and the United Kingdom are connected by a lively, diverse, and trusting relationship. The nearly 500 town twinnings play an important role in the close relationship between the two countries. Besides civil society exchange, the political exchange between local leaders in both countries is of particular importance. Local Leaders in the UK and Germany stand united for a democratic Europe.
The German-British Virtual Mayors Roundtable “Cities united for a democratic Europe” took place as part of the Urban Diplomacy Exchange project on 22 February 2023 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Roundtable brought together over 80 city representatives from both countries, among them more than 20 Mayors, Leaders of the Councils and other local and regional political leaders.
The event was opened with a video message from H.E. Miguel Berger, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ambassador Berger highlighted the importance of German-UK town twinning, particularly post-Brexit, and stressed the importance of working together to strengthen these ties and future engagement. Uwe Conradt, Vice President of the Association of German Cities and Lord Mayor of Saarbrücken, pointed out in his welcome speech that “Urban diplomacy opens the possibility for a continuous dialogue. Especially in difficult times.” We also heard from Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol and Chair of Core Cities UK, who spoke about the role of cities as global entities and the importance of being active on the international stage, particularly in the face of transnational challenges. A regional perspective was brought in by Ana-Maria Trăsnea, Representative of the State of Berlin to the Federal Government and Permanent Secretary for Active Citizenship, Democracy Support and International Affairs. She touched upon topics such as youth engagement and inclusion of migrants and emphasized that "a democratic culture thrives on the rule of law, solidarity and exchange."
Following the welcoming remarks the floor was opened for a discussion. The city leaders exchanged on challenges and opportunities of city-to-city cooperation as well as the role of cities in strengthening democracy in Europe and on the local level. Such areas as global migration, climate change and scarce financial resources were identified among some of the challenges that cities are facing. The participating cities were unanimous in their view on education as an important tool for fighting discrimination and reaching young people. Many cities expressed their interest in engaging in city partnership projects between UK and Germany. City leaders also agreed that it was important not to let Brexit unsettle intermunicipal relations, but to work together and stand up for democracy and the rule of law as the basis for peaceful coexistence and global values.
We would like to thank all participants of this event, especially local leaders from Saarbrücken, Chemnitz, Duisburg, Bonn, Köln, Ludwigsburg, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, St. Helens, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester, Portsmouth, Coventry who provided their valuable contributions to the discussion!
Moderator: Merle Becker
Interpretation: Annika Mattes, Leonie Wagener
10:00 (GMT) Start of the event
10:05 Welcoming remarks
- H.E. Miguel Berger, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (video message)
- Uwe Conradt, Vice President of the Association of German Cities and Lord Mayor of Saarbrücken
- Marvin Rees, Chair of Core Cities UK, Mayor of Bristol
- Ana-Maria Trăsnea, Representative of the State of Berlin to the Federal Government and Permanent Secretary for Active Citizenship, Democracy Support and International Affairs
- Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council, Representative of the Local Government Association Wales
Topic I: Cooperation at the local level between Germany and the UK after Brexit
- Challenges and opportunities of city-to-city cooperation
- The role of the youth
Topic II: The role of cities in strengthening democracy in Europe and on the local level
- Strengthening political participation at the local level
- Cities' contribution to strengthening the democratic resilience of society
- Strengthening the involvement of cities as equal partners
11:45 Wrap up
- Needed support
12:00 End of the event