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Atlantic Expedition: Re-establishing a Traditional Partnership

Thirty young Americans and Germans presented their proposals for modernizing transatlantic relations in Berlin. Central to the participants is the inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups to put the partnership on a broader footing.

Atlantic Expedition: Gruppenfoto

The Atlantic Expedition is a project of the Atlantic Initiative, co-founded by Dr. Johannes Bohnen, to bring together the next generation of transatlanticists and work together to strengthen the faltering relationship between the United States and Germany. After the first expedition in the spring of 2017 in Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin defined recommendations for action ranging from climate protection to free trade. The second expedition in the fall took the group to Chicago and Houston and focused on communication strategies for the recommended projects.

The group summarized the results in an Atlantic Action Plan. This renews the rationale for the transatlantic partnership - a liberal narrative born out of the lessons of World War II - for the challenges of the 21st century. The idea is that minorities and subnational actors, whose voices have played a minor role in transatlantic relations to date, should be empowered to participate more fully - not least through digital means of communication. If rural populations, migrants, workers, but also mayors, civil society organizations, NGOs, local companies, startups, or online platforms are increasingly heard, this will provide relations with more legitimacy and perspectives.

Based on the idea of diversity, the Fellows defined three concrete projects. First, German-American city partnerships to build bridges and solve shared structural problems. Second, international "tandems," i.e., virtual exchange programs that enable the financially less fortunate in particular to experience foreign education. Third, a new "Transatlantic Declaration" that updates its predecessors from the 1990s in the spirit of inclusion and is open to all willing signatories.

Last week, a selection of 30 participants from both expeditions met for a base camp in Berlin and presented the Atlantic Action Plan to decision-makers from journalism, business, politics, and civil society. Feedback was provided by the German Foreign Office, the Tagesspiegel, and Microsoft, among others. In lively discussions, the Fellows defended their approach to modernizing transatlantic relations. The Basecamp culminated in a Next Generation Event to finalize the Action Plan. The Fellows bid farewell with a promise to continue acting as ambassadors for the German-American partnership within the framework of their strong network.

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