NLGA Study Tour
Study Tour: “Germany’s Political and Economic Situation in Times of Crisis,” in Cooperation with the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA)
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s North American regional office was proud to host its fourth study tour to Germany, conducted in cooperation with the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA). This year’s tour featured a delegation comprised of the Lieutenant Governors of Nevada, South Carolina, Iowa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and whose meeting partners covered a wide gamut of German political, economic, and civil society. The itinerary delved into a wide variety of subject areas, ranging from economic development to criminal justice reform, among many others.
The delegation began its tour in Mainz, state capital of the Rheinland-Palatinate, and was joined in its first meeting by Deputy Minister for Economics, Transportation, Agriculture, and Viticulture of Rheinland-Palatinate, Petra Dick-Walther, where topics of economic development, tourism, and energy were broadly covered. The delegation then went onto meet with the Minister of Justice of the Rheinland-Palatinate, Herbert Mertin, where they had a chance to discuss the major differences between the German and American systems of criminal justice. The delegation was then able to experience this firsthand with a visit and tour at the Rohrbach State Prison (JVA Rohrbach). The first day was concluded with a trip to the Guntrum Winery, where the delegation met with Konstantin and Stephanie Guntrum, and learned of the integral importance of the wine industry in the Rheingau region, as well as the challenges facing German agriculture due to climate change.
The delegation’s second day in Mainz focused mainly on education and economic development, and began with visits to two vocational schools – namely the Industry Institute for Education and Advanced Training and Vocation School 1. Here, the delegation had the opportunity to get an inside look into the form and function of Germany’s vocational and apprenticeship programs – a system whose importance has been further underscored by crippling shortages in skilled labor throughout the West. Following this, the delegation met with Rob Smith, CEO of the KION Group – a large, multinational warehouse management and logistics company based in Frankfurt. Smith discussed the steps that KION is taking towards making its operations more sustainable, as well as a flurry of other investments the company is making worldwide.
To conclude the Rhenish/Hessian portion of the study tour, the delegation traveled to Wiesbaden and met with Moritz Promny, Member of the Hessian State Legislature and General Secretary of the Hessian FDP. Promny discussed a wide range of issues – most notably, the then upcoming state elections in Hesse, and the challenges on the local level brought about by the war in Ukraine.
Subsequently, the delegation traveled to Bayer’s agricultural technology R&D facility within the Industriepark Höchst, where they met with Kati Nyman, Head of Global Affairs, among others. Here the delegation was able to witness the technological and scientific strides that Bayer is making in tackling various challenges, such as pesticide resistance and a changing climate.
Beginning the Berlin component of the program, the delegation toured Checkpoint Charlie, as well as remaining portions of the Berlin Wall near the Gropius-Bau, with historical context given by Claus Gramckow. For lunch, the delegation met with Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairman of the Board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, where he discussed the history of Transatlantic relations, as well as ongoing issues on the European level.
Shortly thereafter, the group met with Michael Link, Member of the German Parliament, and Transatlantic Coordinator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Link provided the delegation with numerous insights concerning the German position vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine, and the government’s broader foreign affairs strategy.
And to finish out the day, the group met with Torsten Herbst, Member of the German Parliament and Chief Whip of the FDP Parliamentary Group, where he provided the delegation with a tour of the Bundestag and a brief introduction into the working dynamics of the governing coalition. This was followed by a dinner with Mr. Herbst, as well as Christian Dürr, Member of the German Parliament and Head of the FDP Parliamentary Caucus. Mr. Dürr supplemented much of what was discussed with Mr. Link and Mr. Herbst, and shared some of his experiences as an exchange student in Arizona with the delegation, as well.
On the final day of the tour, the delegation began with a meeting in the Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt), and met with Alexander Eberl, Head of the Department for Security Policy; North America; Northern, Southern, and Western Europe. As was a common theme throughout the study tour, Mr. Eberl stressed the importance of American support for the Ukrainian war effort and reiterated the German government’s position on the conflict, further underscoring the dire circumstances Europe should face in the event of a Russian victory. Additionally, Mr. Eberl highlighted the German government’s China strategy, which was first rolled out in July of this year.
Moving on from this, the delegation ventured to the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft’s Berlin location, and met with Holly Shores-Alles, Fraunhofer’s Foreign Affiliates and Representations Head. Ms. Shores-Alles highlighted many of the society’s ongoing research projects and initiatives – with a special emphasis placed on the non-profit’s role in artificial intelligence development and study.
The delegation’s meeting at Fraunhofer was followed by a tour of the Bundesrat, and subsequently a meeting with its Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Georg Kleemann. Dr. Kleemann highlighted the numerous differences in the systems of checks and balances between Germany and the U.S., and discussed the Bundesrat’s wider role within the German legislative process.
To conclude this year’s FNF-NLGA tour, the delegation was honored to meet Federal Minister of Justice, Dr. Marco Buschmann, at the Federal Ministry of Justice. In light of the delegation’s thorough experiences (both with Minister Mertin and at the Rohrbach State Prison), Minister Buschmann provided invaluable insights into the government’s wider strategy and philosophy concerning issues of criminal justice – most notably concerning the German government’s push to legalize marijuana on the federal level.
Once again, the North American Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann foundation would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to all the members of this year’s NLGA delegation, as well as the numerous meeting partners who generously offered their time to meet with us. Another special thanks goes to Julia Hurst Brossart from the NLGA for all of her efforts in making this year’s trip such a success!