Our Future in a Sovereign Europe
As founding members of the European Union, Germany and Italy are not just close partners with strong cultural, societal, and economic ties but also powerhouses within the EU. Common European challenges such as economic competitiveness, new security threats, climate change, and the technological revolution are impossible to overcome without close cooperation between both countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these challenges and has greatly impacted the development of the global system, bringing about enormous political, economic, and societal risks with immediate consequences for Germany, Italy, and the EU. Moreover, the increasing great power competition between the United States and China, Russia’s confrontational attitude, technological developments, the consequences of climate change, and resurgent authoritarianism are just some of the developments that will determine future tasks and require strong European cooperation in order to maintain the EU’s capacity to act. Strengthening the dialogue within Europe between partners like Germany and Italy is indispensable to improving mutual understanding in Europe, overcoming differences, and becoming driving forces of a sustainable and just socioeconomic transition as well as a stronger Europe in the world.
How can Germany and Italy strengthen Europe’s capability to act both internally and in the international arena? This is the question 60 young leaders from Germany and Italy discussed in the context of the 2021 German-Italian Young Leaders Dialogue – Spinelli Forum.
The Spinelli Forum is organized by the German Council on Foreign Relations in cooperation with the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI) at the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Italian Foreign Ministry. The Forum fosters exchanges between the decision-makers of tomorrow in both countries, thereby providing fresh impetus for German-Italian cooperation on the questions defining the future of Europe.
For a period of 3 months, the participants from the fields of politics, administration, business, science, and the media in the two countries worked together in four workshop groups to find potential solutions for current challenges in European politics: European foreign and security policy, Europe’s economic sovereignty in international competition, a social and prosperous Europe, and the European Green Deal. During two virtual events leading up to the conference, the participants first identified the most pressing problems in their respective policy fields. During a two-day hybrid conference in Berlin, the participants then worked on developing concrete policy proposals as potential solutions to these problems. This process was facilitated by selected experts and included several rounds of “reality checks” with policymakers from the different policy areas.
The working process was framed with several panel discussions – in person as well as virtual. This included a hot seat discussion on Italy and Germany in a sovereign Europe with State Secretary of the German Federal Foreign Office Miguel Berger and Secretary General Ettore Francesco Sequi of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, a panel discussion on the future of German foreign policy after the federal elections, and an online discussion with news correspondents from the two countries.
In the end, each workshop group came up with two to three concrete policy recommendations that were presented to the policy planning units of both countries and serve as a joint German-Italian contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe.