German-Spanish Forum 2015: Both countries benefit from close bilateral relations

Solidarity among EU member states and close bilateral relations are more important than ever. That was the unanimous opinion expressed at the German-Spanish Forum held on November 17 and 18 in Berlin. Felipe VI, King of Spain, and German President Joachim Gauck served as patrons for the event.

Bringing together some 60 business, political and social leaders from both countries, the eighth German-Spanish Forum focused on the mutual challenges resulting from European integration. In three sessions, the participants discussed education and employment opportunities in Germany and Spain, competition in the age of digital technology and future economic cooperation between the two countries. The event concluded with a luncheon in Schloss Bellevue, the residence of Germany's president, given by President Gauck with King Felipe in attendance.

The German president praised the forum as a welcome opportunity for bilateral exchange and expressed his hope in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris that it would strengthen ties between the two countries, thereby improving cooperation within Europe.

"Spain and Germany can rely on each other as partners within Europe, and the assuredness with which we can say that sentence is priceless."

President Joachim Gauck

The German-Spanish Forum was opened on November 17 by Liz Mohn, vice-chairwoman of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board. In addition to business representatives and civil society leaders from both countries, participants included Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spain's minister of education, culture and sport; Maria Böhmer, minister of state in Germany's Federal Foreign Office; Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, vice-chairman of Banco Santander; Achim Dercks, deputy chief executive of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry; and Markus Kerber, director general of the Federation of German Industries.

"This forum, which serves as a framework for ongoing dialogue, gives us the opportunity to better understand each of our national realities and to consider together the joint challenges we face."

Felipe VI, King of Spain

During the gathering, Jörg Dräger, member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board, emphasized the opportunities and challenges resulting from digitization. In addition, participants discussed how the dual vocational-educational system, which offers young people in Germany and Switzerland both classroom instruction and on-the-job training, can be established throughout Spain to help reduce over the medium term the country’s high level of youth unemployment.

About the German-Spanish Forum

The German-Spanish Forum is conceived as a bilateral platform for dialogue among high-ranking political, business, cultural and social leaders from both countries. Organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung together with Banco Santander and the ICO Foundation, it is held every two years, alternating between Germany and Spain. The forum was initiated by the Spanish and German governments. It took place for the first time in Madrid in 2002 on the instigation of King Juan Carlos of Spain to mark the state visit by Germany’s then president, Johannes Rau.