May 2018
Monthly Newsletter
In This Issue

• Letter from the President
German-American Conference
• Transatlantic Survey
• Changes to Privacy Laws

• Upcoming Events
• April Highlights
• DZ Bank Fellowship
• Call for Applications

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A Letter from the President

Dear Members and Friends of the ACG,
For observers of the transatlantic relationship, the past few weeks have been an important period. Late last month French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made separate trips to Washington, DC.

The optics of the two visits could not have been more different. Macron spent three days in Washington with the pomp and circumstance of President Donald Trump’s first state dinner since taking office and a joint session of Congress. In comparison, Merkel had a meeting with the President in the Oval Office, a joint press conference, and then a working lunch.
Despite the stark differences, Macron and Merkel visited Trump with the same objectives: a permanent exemption from U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel for the European Union and the continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. As Bundestag member Peter Beyer, the newly minted Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation, said: “In Washington, they don’t represent French and German interests. They represent European interests.”
And, yet, both leaders were rebuffed when on the heels of their visits it was announced that President Trump would postpone his decision on whether the European Union should have a permanent exemption when it comes to tariffs on aluminum and steel exports to the United States. As a U.S. government official said to me last week, one should not underestimate the view that this administration has regarding unfair trade practices that have led to a $151 billion trade deficit with Europe – and a $64 billion trade deficit with Germany alone.
Economic nationalism and the global marketplace will top the agenda when members and friends of the American Council on Germany and Atlantik-Brücke convene in Washington, DC, today for our annual conference, which is titled “The Alliance in Question? The Transatlantic Relationship in an Era of Disruption.” Conference speakers include U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; State Secretary Niels Annen from the German Foreign Office; Senator Chris Murphy; Denis McDonough, Senior Principal at the Markle Foundation and former Chief of Staff for President Obama; Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, Managing Director at the Institute of International Finance and former U.S. Ambassador to the EU; as well as Bundestag members Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, and Peter Beyer.
Timed to coincide with this conference, the ACG and Atlantik-Brücke have released the results of a public opinion poll they commissioned that was carried out in April. The representative survey was designed to measure public perception of the transatlantic relationship and provide insight on German and American views on an array of domestic and foreign policy issues.
Although the majority of Germans and Americans believe that there are common Western values, the study confirmed a troubling trend: Roughly half of the respondents in both countries are convinced that the foundation of common values is eroding. There is only partial agreement on the most important Western values: Freedom of speech is seen as the most important value by two-thirds of Germans and more than half of Americans. For Germans, the other top important values were democracy, privacy, and the rule of law, while Americans ranked freedom of religion, democracy, and the right to bear arms as the next most important common Western values. It is disturbing to note that one in five Germans does not think that Europe and the United States share common values.
This is a call to action for organizations like ours to continue actively engaging communities on both sides of the Atlantic and finding ways Germany and the United States can work together. The study did find that Germans and Americans are in alignment with regard to the two most pressing global challenges: One out of five respondents on both sides of the Atlantic thinks that terrorism is the most urgent global challenge, followed by climate change. And, there is consensus that cooperation between the two countries can have the greatest impact in the fight against terrorism. In light of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, it is interesting to note that Americans believe climate change is the second most pressing common challenge that Europe and the United States can address together. In addition, 13% of German respondents said the United States and Europe should cooperate more to address trade imbalances, although they are not regarded as an urgent challenge.
Today’s conference will focus not only on the global economy but also on how the United States and Germany view China. Survey respondents did not regard the rise of China as an especially urgent global challenge. For Americans, it was the eighth most pressing global challenge, and for Germans, it was the least-pressing challenge of the 11 challenges listed. In a series of questions on China, it became clear that Americans have a far more pessimistic view of China than do Germans. One out of four Germans sees China’s rise as an economic opportunity (compared with one out of five Americans). More than a quarter of Americans believe China poses an economic threat. In terms of security, there is less concern. Almost one third of Americans expressed concern over the rise of China – compared with only 17% of Germans.
In addition to addressing the bilateral relationship and international issues, the study focused on domestic concerns. Roughly one third of respondents in both countries have little confidence in their democratic institutions. And, to varying degrees, almost three-quarters of Germans and 70% of Americans believe that fake news poses a threat to democracy.
The full results of our survey may be found here
The survey was designed to gauge transatlantic attitudes at a time of atmospheric disturbances in the German-American relationship, not to mention a time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity around the globe. While the poll confirmed some worrisome trends in transatlantic relations, it also provided some interesting insights into what issues matter most for Americans and Germans of various ages, in diverse regions, and across the political spectrum. While the ACG has been addressing topics like climate change, the global economy, and China in our public-policy discussions, at conferences, and by fellows, we will redouble our efforts to focus on these and other issues that are pressing for you and your transatlantic counterparts.  

Through our events and outreach – and now this survey – we strive to keep our members and friends informed about developments affecting the transatlantic relationship.
With best regards,

Dr. Steven E. Sokol

German-American Conference in Washington, DC

Today, the ACG and Atlantik-Brücke are hosting our sixth annual joint German-American Conference – titled “The Alliance in Question? The Transatlantic Relationship in an Era of Disruption” – in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. The conference will focus on the challenges facing the transatlantic partnership with a focus on foreign and security policy, trade and economic policy, as well as the challenges to the fabric of society in both countries. 

The conference will start with an opening keynote from Edward Luce, Chief U.S. Commentator for the Financial Times and Author of “Retreat of Western Liberalism,” and close with a “fireside chat” with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Other speakers include State Minister Niels Annen (SPD), State Minister for North America and the Middle East at the German Federal Foreign Office; Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation in the German Foreign Office Peter Beyer; Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, Foreign Editor, Frankfurter Allgemeine ZeitungDonatus Kaufmann, Member of the Executive Board for ThyssenKrupp AG; Tanit Koch, Journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of BILD; Dr. Charles Kupchan, ; Denis McDonough, Senior Principal at the Markle Foundation and former Chief of Staff to President Obama; Dr. Oriana Skylar Mastro, Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; L. Daniel Mullaney, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East; Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); Dr. Eberhard Sandschneider, Head of Political Research on China and East Asia at the Freie Universität Berlin; and Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, Managing Director of the Institute of International Finance and former U.S. Ambassador to the EU.

Ambassador Peter Wittig is generously hosting attendees for a dinner reception at his residence following the conference

The Alliance in Question

Transatlantic relations have been strained since Donald J. Trump’s election. It is telling that following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s trip to Washington late last month to meet with President Trump, the German weekly Der Spiegel described the visit as “not so bad.” This is a clear indication of how low expectations were. But, how do regular Germans and Americans view the transatlantic relationship? Do we have shared values and do we face common challenges? Where can we work together? These are some of the questions that were posed in a representative survey commissioned by the American Council on Germany and the Atlantik-Bruecke and conducted by YouGov in mid-April.

It won’t come as a surprise that most Germans and Americans believe in common Western values, but about half of the respondents believe the foundation of these common values is eroding. 

New Privacy Rules in the EU

The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into effect on May 25, 2018. In an effort to comply with GDPR consent requirements, we need to confirm that you would like to receive information from us. 

If you have not already give the ACG your consent to stay on our mailing list, please do so now. 

Upcoming ACG Events

On May 22, the Dallas Warburg Chapter will host a panel discussion with Markus Blume, CSU Secretary General; Ursula Maennle, Chairwoman of the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation; and Udo Zolleis, Chief Strategist of the EPP Majority Leader in the European Parliament Manfred Weber on the state of the transatlantic relationship. More information to follow.

On May 24, the ACG and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung will hold a discussion and luncheon with Nikolas Löbel, Member of the Bundestag (CDU/CSU). He will discuss the future of European security cooperation and the liberal order. More information to follow. 

April Highlights

On April 12, the ACG held an event, hosted by Alston & Bird LLP, with Dr. Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Director of the Research Area on Public Policy and Society at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), who drew on a recently released MERICS report to discuss China’s efforts to gain influence in Europe.

The ACG partnered with the University Alliance Ruhr and the German Center for Research and Innovation on a panel discussion at the German House in New York entitled “Regional Visioning: Transforming City Regions and Public Participation.” The discussion on April 19 was moderated by 2017 McCloy Fellow on Global Trends, Bettina Oberhauser, Editor for Hessischer Rundfunk; and included Ullrich Sierau, Lord Mayor of Dortmund; Jamie Bemis, Account Manager for Bright Power and 2017 McCloy Fellow on Global Trends; Wolfram Hoefer, Co-director of the Rutgers University Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability; and James Koth, Director of Parks & Recreation for Bergen County, New Jersey.

DZ BANK Fellowship Awarded

Through the generous support of DZ BANK, the ACG has launched a new fellowship that will examine the changing global financial environment. In April, the ACG awarded the first DZ BANK Fellowship on Transatlantic Business and Finance to Daniel Hellwig. He is a Doctoral Candidate at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany and will conduct research on the future state of the blockchain ecosystem.

Call for Applications

In a rapidly changing and interconnected world, it is becoming increasingly important to analyze tomorrow’s challenges today. Through the McCloy Fellowships on Global Trends, the ACG is addressing overarching issues that affect communities around the world in the areas of urbanization, climate change and sustainability, technological breakthroughs, and demographics and social change.

The fellowships allow American and German experts from journalism, the public sector, think tanks, nonprofits, law, and cultural organizations to research and assess the most pressing topics on the transatlantic agenda while engaging with their counterparts overseas. 

McCloy Fellows on Global Trends receive a $5,000 stipend to complete research in the above areas. The stipend covers transatlantic airfare and domestic travel, as well as room and board, for a minimum of 21 days. Upon completing their international travel, fellows are required to submit an analytical report on their findings, which is published by the American Council on Germany. 

Applications are due June 1, 2018.

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