Congressional Study Group on Germany

This year the Congressional Study Group on Germany (CSGG) was extremely active, as it continues to grow in its mission to foster and maintain dialogue between U.S. legislators and their German counterparts in the Bundestag.  The Congressional Study Group on Germany is a vital forum for the partnership between the United States and Germany, and it has helped to strengthen this transatlantic friendship for over two decades.  The CSGG is bipartisan and is comprised of roughly one-third of the U.S. Congress.

In addition to the 26th Annual Congress-Bundestag Seminar, the highlights of this year’s event calendar were as follows:

  • A roundtable with then-German Federal Minister of Economics, Dr. Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, currently German Federal Minister of Defense
  • A luncheon discussion with MdB Ruprecht Polenz (CDU), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Bundestag
  • A roundtable with the Honorable Christian Wulff, Minister President of the German State of Lower-Saxony to commemorate German Unification Day

The Congressional Study Group on Germany had the distinct honor of hosting Dr. Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg on Capitol Hill in March, shortly after he was appointed German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology.   FMC organized an intimate dinner discussion for the Minister and the leadership of the Congressional Study Group on Germany.  Both Senate Chairs, Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) were in attendance, along with House Chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Immediate Past Chairman Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA).   The Study Group also had the voice of the business community with participation from its Business Advisory Council.  The lawmakers acknowledged the critical trade relationship between Germany and the United States and discussed potential remedies to combat the current global economic crisis.

On May 19th, 2009, the Study Group on Germany brought together Ruprecht Polenz, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag, with Members of the U.S. Congress.  MdB Polenz (CDU) highlighted the policy changes that have been made within the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency, such as a shift in focus toward climate change.  He then spoke about the progress made by the United States in reaching out to the Middle East and in beginning talks with Iran with regards to nuclear weapons.  He also noted that looking for new approaches to the situation in Afghanistan is a priority.  He emphasized the need for a boost in civilian support and the inclusion of neighboring nations in stabilizing Afghanistan.  MdB Polenz concluded his statements by expressing his view that the world’s economic crisis can only be solved with international cooperation.

On October 2, 2009, the CSGG hosted a breakfast with the Minister-President of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff.  He began his remarks by thanking the United States for its help in liberating Germany from the grip of the Nationalist Socialist regime, and subsequent support in reconstructing Germany after the devastation of WWII. He stressed the importance of continuing to strengthen transatlantic relations with the Obama administration.  Minister President Wulff opened the floor to a question and answer session, asking Members of Congress to comment on two salient topics, climate change and protectionism. He noted that the EU and the rest of the world have high expectations of the United States in the climate change debate at the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference. He also reinforced the importance of avoiding protectionist measures in these difficult economic times. Representatives from various interested parties were given the opportunity to comment on the aforementioned topics which provided for a very candid and interesting discussion

The 26th Annual Congress-Bundestag Seminar

The 26th Annual Congress-Bundestag Seminar, brought together Members of the Bundestag’s USA Parliamentary Friendship Group and the Congressional Study Group on Germany, under the leadership of their respective Chairmen, MdB Hans-Ulrich Klose (SPD) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), for a conference in Berlin and Cologne, Germany, from May 27 – 31, 2009.  The Seminar participants discussed matters of transatlantic concern, including the current economic crisis, health care, energy and climate change, the future of detainees at Guantanamo, and the situation in Pakistan and the surrounding region.  During the Seminar, the Members of Congress and the Bundestag met with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and with its Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.  The participants also reflected on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and appreciated both medieval and modern elements of Cologne.

This year was an extremely active on for the Congressional Study Group on Germany.  Despite the economic hardships that both the United States and Germany have faced, both countries utilized the CSGG on Germany as a platform to discuss topics of mutual importance.   The Congressional Study Group on Germany would like to thank its supporters:  the German Marshall Fund of the United States, organizations that make up the Study Group’s Business Advisory Council, and the German political foundations as well as the German Embassy Washington.

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