British-German Friendship Treaty 

In February 2020, the German Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee Norbert Roettgen and his counter part Thomas Tugendhat, call for a post Brexit ’treaty of friendship’ between Britain and Germany. The treaty, they say ’would deepen the bonds between the two countries’ and‚ complement what the UK agreed with the 27 member states’.

As a consequence of Brexit, parliamentarians and officials will no longer meet regularly in Brussels. Britain’s diplomatic mission in Brussels faces the risk of being downgraded. As Brexit is changing the relationship with the EU, such bilateral contract would enhance cooperation and strengthen shared values. A bilateral Anglo-German pact could enshrine joint security and foreign policy goals, foster exchanges between schools and universities and include bilateral research grants, when joint projects are no longer eligible for EU funding.

It reflects that this year’s though trade negotiations may ’toxify the atmosphere’ between Britain and the EU, therefore the idea of an early ’bilaterisation’ of ties with the two governments. Since Britain has left the EU, European countries have more freedom to pursue their joint interests without contravening EU policy. After 47 years of integration, Brexit requires a rethink of relations between individual members states and Britain.

Dr. Norbert Roettgen is a member of the Christian Democratic Union and served in the cabinet as Environment Minister from 2009 to 2012. He is chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag.

Thomas Tugendhat is a British Conservative MP. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2015. Since 2017 he has served as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Dr. Roettgen and Mr. Tugendhat published their proposal in The Times and the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

“Junge Union” Lower Saxony in London

At the end of January 2019, the Friends of the CDU welcomed a delegation of the “Junge Union”, the youth organization of the CDU/CSU. The delegation visited London to learn more about the British parliamentarian system as well as the impact of Brexit on the economy and our future relations.

 A few days earlier the British parliament had voted again against the proposed Brexit deal. The young German politicians expressed concern that Brexit might have a strong negative impact on the fishing business in Lower Saxony. If British waters become restricted or closed for German fishery, it could have significant influence in the processing industry in Cuxhaven. It is then expected that factories will be closed and many jobs be lost. This example shows how Brexit will impact especially less developed regions in Germany. On the other hand we may also guess how the British fishing industry would fare with customs accrued on their EU exports.

Another aspect that was discussed were legal and tax issues for British Companies operating in Germany. Many British subsidiaries are operating in the Limited (Ltd.) company format in Germany. After Brexit this format will not be any longer be allowed under EU law and companies may have to expect higher tax payments.

We received our guests in the Old Bank of England Pub, a traditional English Pub close to the Crown Courts. Typically British, fish and chips were served. The following young politicians visited us from Lower Saxony, Germany:

  • Mareike Wulf (Deputy whip in the local government)

  • Laura Rebuschat (Youngest member of the local government)

  • Claas Merfort (Deputy Chairman – “Junge Union”)

  • Thorsten Köster (Chief Whip – CDU Braunschweig)

  • Maximilian Oppelt (Deputy Chairman – CDU Hannover)

  • Marius Keite (Deputy Chairman – CDU Osnabrück)

  • Tilman Kuban (Candidate for the European Parliament, Chairman – “Junge Union” Lower Saxony)

We would like to mention that Tilman Kuban was elected Chairman of the entire “Junge Union” at the 15th March 2019, less than two month after his visit in London. He achieved an overwhelming 2/3 majority. The Friends of the CDU like congratulate Tilman Kuban on his election and wish him much success in his forthcoming challenges.

The election was required because his predecessor Paul Ziemiak was elected CDU General Secretary in December 2018. We wish Mr. Ziemiak all the best in his new responsibilities.

CDU Party Convention – A new chairwoman

Last weekend (6th – 8th Dec) the friends of the CDU in Great Britain participated at the Party Convention in Hamburg, Germany. After 18 years of successful service Ms. Merkel stepped down as chairwoman. In a tight race Ms. Krampkarrenbauer, former Secretary General, got elected as the new chairwoman. For further information we would like to recommend this article.

Parliament members for Germans abroad?!

Our member, Ulrike Franke, Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, supports the idea that German nationals living outside Germany should be represented by their own parliamentarian candidate(s). Simply, these members of parliament for ‘exiled’ Germans would be in a better position to understand the needs and challenges of Germans abroad than those elected to Bundestag under the present electoral system. Therefore change is needed, says Ulrike and points out the French system as an example. Her article was published recently in FAZ Magazine.

Comment: Free movement and migration

In his essay ‘Free movement and migration‘ for the Federal Trust, Dr Hywel Ceri Jones provides an insightful and challenging summary of the free movement policy between European states. Supported by an in-depth analysis of individual migration policies he observes a misleading interpretation of EU rules. Free movement rests on Article 48 and 49 of the EU’s founding Treaty of Rome in 1957, which the UK accepted when it joined the EEC in 1973. These articles are embedded in the present EU Treaty in its Article 45 (3). He observes that in practice, the UK has been able to pursue a managed migration policy to fit its needs.

In the debates during the referendum Dr. Jones saw the ‘toxic bundling’ of legal and illegal migration, asylum seekers and the global refugee crisis, when there was no distinction made between reciprocal rights of EU citizens to work and study abroad and the migration resulting from wars and humanitarian crises.

Comment: Brexit and the Withdrawal Bill: A Multi-Player Game?

The Federal Trust published the article ‘Brexit and the Withdrawal Bill: A Multi-Player Game?’. Dr Andrew Blick describes in a perspicacious view the British decision-making process of the Brexit negotiations. His article provides a path of clarity in the jungle of complex interconnected British players surrounding the ongoing discussion. In addition, Dr Blick discusses different potential scenarios of party behaviour and wide variety of outcomes for the final Withdrawal Bill.

Brexit and the German economy

German industrial companies prepare for a hard Brexit. The Federation of German industries (BDI) warned that German firms must prepare for the worst-case scenario of a very hard Brexit (1, 2). The current bilateral trading volume between Great Britain and Germany is at 170bn EUR with direct investments of 140bn EUR and 400k people employed in German firms in Great Britain. Germany and Great Britain have strong economical ties. Any form of Brexit (soft or hard) endangers not only existing investments of firms from both sides but also make future investments less attractive. Several project groups from Germany and the EU in Brussels are analysing actual and potential problems for companies facing Brexit.

A comprehensive trade and economic agreement is unlikely to achieve until 30th March 2019. Also, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce
warns that businesses need clarity what happens after March 2019. It is questionable, how a transition period of 2 to 3 years, as mentioned by Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence, would work for businesses in the United Kingdom and EU (3, 4).

  1. BDI: ‘Prepare-for-very-hard-brexit’
  2. Boersen-Zeitung: A hard Brexit is to expect.
  3. TheGuardian: ‘Theresa May-Florence-speech-Brexit’
  4. DIHK: British and German industrial relations