As a transatlantic organization, the Aspen Institute Germany holds strengthening and building resilience and understanding at the core of its mission. The Transatlantic Program promotes an open, values-based dialog on key challenges facing the transatlantic relationship. The Program covers a wide range of topics including foreign and security policy, global order and multilateralism, international trade, climate sustainability and – in cooperation with the Digital Program – the rising influence of technology on the international system.
The Program’s initiatives offer platforms for both public and off-the-record discussion and debate. Conferences attract high level guests to Berlin to discuss Euro-Atlantic cooperation, while workshops and seminar formats bring together transatlantic experts from different backgrounds and take a more in-depth look at specific questions. Exchange programs help foster frank expert-driven discussions and enduring personal relationships.
On its 40th anniversary, the Aspen Institute Germany launched its Berlin Transatlantic Forum to address some of the most pressing challenges facing Europe and the United States. Each fall, the Institute hosts a conference that brings together renowned experts and decision-makers from both sides of the Atlantic to exchange ideas. The annual conference is preceded by a workshop, during which experts from Germany, Europe, and the U.S. gather for an in-depth discussion of key topics of transatlantic concern.
Topics not only encompass questions in the fields of security, energy and trade, but also how technology is shaping and challenging the foundation of common transatlantic values. The 2019 conference – entitled “Fit for Purpose? The Transatlantic Relationship and the World of Tomorrow” – looks both at the past and future of the partnership. It examines the transatlantic relationship since the fall of the Berlin Wall, how it has evolved and where its greatest operational strengths can lie in a world of rising technological, political and democratic disruption. Previous conferences focused on the impact of technology on politics within and between states, Germany’s role in the world and the future of the liberal order.
As part of the Berlin Transatlantic Forum 2019, the Aspen Institute Germany established its Aspen NEXT initiative aimed at engaging the coming generation of Atlanticists and facilitating an exchange of ideas for the future of the transatlantic relationship.
The Berlin Transatlantic Forum is made possible by a generous grant of the foundation “Lotto Stiftung Berlin,” as well as current partners Volkswagen AG and Lockheed Martin.
The Laboratories of Democracy project brings together representatives from the U.S. state legislatures and German Landtage to facilitate a values-based discussion and an exchange of ideas about how to tackle current international policy challenges on a subnational level. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote about the power of states as the “laboratory of democracy,” where new and innovative policy approaches can be tested. This project draws on that notion, focusing on the role of state legislators in creating policy solutions and fostering transatlantic relations in times when national governments are dominated by political polarization and crisis management.
The program aims to highlight the role of subnational politics and their contribution to a discussion about transatlantic leadership. Focusing on a specific issue area – technological transformation, structural transformation and post-industrial transition, climate and energy – the program will identify and share best practices, offer on the ground experiences of such cases and encourage peer-learning. Ultimately, the program will help build networks beyond the capitals. The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).
Aspen Germany’s Trilateral Dialog brings together legislators and expert scholars from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America in a confidential, off-the-record setting. The format is intended to provide a neutral platform for an open exchange on contested issues between the three countries’ legislators and senior experts. Closely organized in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Foundation of Germany, the 2019 gathering of Members from the U.S. Congress, the Russian Duma and Federation Council, and the German Bundestag was the second of its kind after the successful launch of the format in 2016. Topics discussed range from issues of arms control and the European security architecture to the Middle East and international trade.
The moderated discussion between the delegations focuses on exploring the scope for action and possible solutions regarding these pressing issues. A round of competent academics from the participating countries, specially selected for this purpose, help to find appropriate entry points and to stimulate the necessary discussion between the parliamentarians.
The Bundestag-Congress Staff Exchange seeks to strengthen the ties between legislative and committee staff from Germany and the United States. During visits in Berlin and Washington, D.C., participants have the chance to get an inside view of political systems and legislative processes and foster ties on a working level as well as to connect with their counterparts. Site visits and expert talks offer in-depth knowledge on current issues of transatlantic importance.
From 2015 to 2017, Aspen’s German-American Dialogue brought together legislators and civil society representatives from both sides of the Atlantic in order to strengthen inter-parliamentary as well as civil-society dialogue. During the first part of the exchange, participants met in Berlin and discussed current and future challenges to the transatlantic community, such as climate change and electric mobility, migration and integration, vocational training, startups and entrepreneurship as well as civic education and the role of the media.
Together with Members of the Bundestag, the U.S. delegations then visited local constituencies, where the participants were introduced to companies and projects on the municipal level.
These programs have been made possible through the generous support from the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy (BMWi).