Initiated by the German and Spanish governments, the German-Spanish Forum was held for the first time in 2002 in conjunction with the German president's visit to Madrid. The forum's goal is to bring together political, business, cultural and academic representatives from both countries to exchange views. It takes place once every two years in Spain and Germany and is accompanied by workshops held prior to and after the forum itself. Together with a number of partners in Spain, the Germany-based Bertelsmann Stiftung organizes the forum, providing conceptual and substantive input based on its wide-scale strategic understanding of European policy and its diverse activities in Spain. Given current challenges in German-Spanish relations, the business community needs to exhibit a high level of corporate responsibility by promoting innovation, growth, education and employment, an effort that demands closer cooperation between the two countries. After France, Germany is Spain's most important trading partner and, in terms of Spanish imports, even surpasses France. German-Spanish relations will therefore play a key role in overcoming the current European crisis.
Within the European Union, the relationship between Spain and Germany is unique. Both are crucial economies in the European market, both have a special geographical position and both have a particular interest in European integration. For both countries as well, efforts to promote democracy and economic success are inextricably tied to Europe and the EU. Germany and Spain are important pillars of European culture and key players in the European market. The geographic locations of both countries are well suited to facilitating a strategic partnership and offer a solid foundation for collaborative efforts that further promote European integration. The two nations thus have a critical role to play as intermediaries in economic, political and cultural affairs, especially in Latin America and the Mediterranean, but also in Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia. Europe's future role and its economic prosperity – including that of its citizens – will depend on having a coordinated, well-designed strategy for dealing with these regions, which are part of the European cultural sphere.