Transatlantic Discussion in San Antonio

Golden Gate BridgeThe Young Transatlantic Initiative – Regional group Texas hosted its first event in San Antonio, Texas. The panel discussion with the title “Transatlantic Relations” covered three specific current topics: Immigrations – Emissions – Political Change and how these topics affect the Transatlantic Relations.

We wanted to cover “Immigrations” because of the current refugee crisis in Europe, Emissions/Economy because of the Volkswagen Scandal and lately political change because of the presidential elections in the United States this year and the upcoming elections in Germany in 2017.

In the panel

  • Mrs. Nina Jasmin Petrow – Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Mr. Phil Hardberger – Former Mayor of San Antonio
  • Mr. Ron Nirenberg – Councilmen in San Antonio’s City Council
  • Dr. Matthias Hofferberth – Assistant Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Global Governance at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • Mr. Eduardo Parra – 2015 Marshal Memorial Fellow

Moderated was the Panel Discussion by Mr. Francisco Gonima (executive coach + organizational culture and leadership speaker).

The welcome speech was held by David Gruenewald (Head of Regional Group Texas, Young Transatlantic Initiative) and Lena Haubold (Member of the Regional Group Texas). Gruenewald welcomed about 100 guest in the audience this evening in San Antonio and the special guests in the panel. He built foundation for this evening with the statement

“…Partnership doesn’t mean to always have the same opinion and agree on everything, but we believe that the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany share more values in common than any other nation in the world”. – David Gruenewald

The second part of the Welcome Speech was the introduction of the Young Transatlantic Initiative which was held by Lena Haubold. She went over the History of the YTI, when and why this unique Initiative was found and she mentioned that

“The discussions about the Future of the Transatlantic Partnership will take place almost exclusively in closed political and economic circles, but lacks a serious dialogue on a broad civil society. This is why we want to integrate this vision in our society”. – Lena Haubold

After this rousing welcome speech the word was passed to Mr. Gonima to take over and lead the panel into their discussion.

Immigration, Emission and Political Change

The first topic covered this evening was Immigration discussed by Mrs. Petrow and Mr. Hardberger from a German and American perspective. Mrs. Petrow opened the flor by sharing with her audience her personal experience with her father being a immigrant in Germany. She went over the current situation in Germany/Europe with many refugees coming in every day and reminded us that these people running away from war, leaving everything behind (house and family) and arriving in Europe exhausted.
Mr. Hardberger started his part of this conversation with a historical frame, talking about the Romans who took 2 million immigrants in the Roman Empire. These immigrants made Rome to what it was, a powerful empire. Phil Hardberger reminded us with this, that immigrants can be very beneficial for any country since they bring skills, knowledge and different perspectives with them. And at the end they are work forces. After he gave us this introduction he went straight to the situation in the United States, especially Texas and San Antonio with the Mexican Immigrants and that this City wouldn’t be what it is nowadays without all this influence.

The second topic of the evening was Emissions/Economy covered by Mr. Eduardo Parra and additional Mrs. Nina Petrow. Mr. Parra opened the flor introducing us the audience very quick about TTIP and the basics what currently is under negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union. He named the facts about the two world biggest economy areas and how powerful Germany in the world economy is. After covering the basics and mentioning the numbers/facts he came to the different standards that are existing between our nations. Because of this existing issue Volkswagen had troubles to match the criteria in the United States. Mr. Parra also showed how the whole Volkswagen scandal effects the United States. VW has a huge plant in Tennessee which was already negotiated to expand and creat 2000 new jobs. The future of this Project now is uncertain. Mr. Eduardo Parra wanted to show the audience that what ever happens on one side it affects the other side and the other way. This German – American Partnership is very close linked.

The third topic of the evening was Political Change covered by Dr. Matthias Hofferberth and Councilman Ron Nirenberg. In the year of the presidential elections in the United States and one year before the elections in Germany an important topic to think about. Dr. Hofferberth opened this topic by talking about the importance of the transatlantic relations. Germany and the United States of America share a long history together and political change always can effect this relationship. He mentioned the political crisis in the European Union with many conflicts because of the current refugee situation but also mentioned that the German population is a dying population (the population pyramid) and we are in need of immigrants. Dr. Hofferberth also mentioned that even though we hear a lot of critical voices about Mrs. Merkel that compared to the satisfaction in the United States about their president the German chancellor has a way better standing. He also mentioned that most fears of the refugee crisis is just made by the media and we will need to see how many Germans are actually really effected by refugees (the number is probably really small). The biggest concern about all this in the heads of people is the cultural fear.
Ron Nirenberg, started with a reminder how important the German-American Partnership really is for both countries. Several German companies that come to the U.S. to open a branch chose often Texas. Many jobs in San Antonio and in Texas were created by German companies.
He showed from his perspective with a reminder about what politicians actually are and what they should do. They focus nowadays too much on irrelevant topics than on the topics that really touch the people living in a country. He also mentioned the importance of refugees, economical standing and the political stability in San Antonio, Texas.

The ends or the official panel discussion part was traditionally covered by question from the audience.
One of the questions that came up here was how actually, even though immigrants are valuable for a country, this incoming new culture affects the daily life.

Get Together with Speakers

The end of the evening was a Get Together between panel members and audience with served drinks to make the atmosphere as convenient as possible. The Young Transatlantic Initiative stands for an interactive exchange of ideas and thoughts and so the Regional group Texas made sure that this exchange on this get-together atmosphere takes place.

On behalf of the Young Transatlantic Initiative, we would like to thank all our supporters, sponsors and especially the panel members for supporting the regional group Texas to put this together. A special thanks to the Regional group Texas for taking care about this event, settling down and implementing the idea of the Young Transatlantic Initiative in the second biggest U.S. State, Texas.

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