The transatlantic relationship has been put to the test as existing global structures built after World War II appear weak in the face of rising powers, aggressive non-state actors, and technological transformation. Central to that strong transatlantic bond is the relationship between Germany and the United States. The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) assembled an interdisciplinary group of experts and stakeholders to reassess the fundamentals of the German-American relationship and make recommendations to renew and strengthen bilateral ties. Karen Donfried, GMF president, and Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, chaired the task force. The report was released in Berlin and Washington at the end of May and since then task force members have been involved in presenting the report all across Germany.
Public forums and small roundtables were held in Potsdam, the Rhineland, Munich and Stuttgart with peer institutions such as the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Zeit Foundation, and the BMW Foundation acting as invaluable partners on the ground. The last rollout event occurred at the Technical University in Dresden in conjunction with the Center for International Studies. Over one hundred students offered their commentary to Karen Donfried and Ines Pohl, Washington Correspondent for Deutsche Welle and formerly editor-in-chief of the taz, regarding the report’s findings. The students were candid and conveyed astute observations that reflected many of the task force participants’ feedback. It was clear that technology has not only produced opportunities for joint innovation across the Atlantic, but has also posed conundrums when it comes to the balance between privacy and security. The image of the United States in Germany seems skewed which frequently manifests itself in the TTIP debate and many Germans feel a sense of disappointment that Germany is not perceived as an equal partner at the table. These future young leaders in Dresden also clearly understand that Germany itself is undergoing change as it carries the leadership mantle in Europe.