Messing about on the river
Some of the most interesting political discussions can arise in the most bizarre of locations – while ducking to avoid the low-hanging and fast approaching bridges on the roof deck of a boat, for example. So it was on a summer’s evening on the River Spree in Berlin as a group of British and German ‘promising young things’ repeatedly crouched and attempted to maintain their dignity while talking about the euro crisis with diplomats and former ambassadors from both countries.
As the scenery of one of Europe’s most fascinating and dynamic cities drifted past it was a fitting end to an extraordinary week which had seen us entertained by business leaders with unorthodox music tastes, dine with the British ambassador at his residency, given incredibly detailed tours of the Bundestag and meet with senior civil servants at the heart of the German government who were exceedingly generous with their time and insight.
No one can be in any doubt that the world is becoming ever more interdependent. The problems we face in the UK and Germany and the rest of Europe can be solved only through global thinking and the sharing of ideas. It was a theme that the participants in the 2011 Jung Königswinter Conference, brilliantly organised by the Deutsh-Britische Gesellschaft, repeatedly returned to.
Among the politicos and journalists there were civil servants, students, charity workers, teachers, trainee doctors and lawyers and more besides. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss and debate themes common to both countries and all walks of life.
Through group workshops, discussions chaired by German MPs and British diplomats, breakout sessions and some highly innovative presentation techniques the different themes covered by each group were shared and discussed by all. The results were fed back and set the tone for discussions that would continue long after the conference had ended.
The aim of Jung Königswinter is to forge a new generation of people who are interested in German-British relations and European affairs and it is especially important that young centre-left activists make their voices heard.
This year the conference takes place from 31 July until 5 August and is open to candidates aged 25-30. The theme this year is ‘More Europe or Less?’ – particularly apt given the recent and persistent rise of anti-EU sentiment across the continent. You can be nominated by past attendees or apply independently via this page. Alternatively if you want to ask me any questions about it you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
No boating experience required.
Seb Dance is convenor of Labour Friends of Germany
Europe, Germany, Labour