The Transatlantic Dialogue Program of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) was delighted to bring a delegation of U.S. Lieutenant Governors and their staff in cooperation with the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) to Düsseldorf and Berlin for a productive and insightful week-long study tour to facilitate exchanges between U.S. and German legislators on subjects of mutual concern.
Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney from Montana and Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez from New Mexico gained firsthand impressions and deepened their understanding of the German dual education system and workforce development issues, startup companies, the health care system and private insurance companies, the correctional system, as well as issues concerning immigration and integration, transatlantic affairs, and coalition building in the recently elected German government. The U.S. Lieutenant Governors made valuable connections with professionals who work in their areas of expertise in order to bring their experiences back to the U.S. to supplement and inform their work in state governments.
In Düsseldorf, participants learned about health care challenges for communities in Germany by meeting with the city’s public health department director and Deputy Mayor, Prof. Andreas Meyer-Falcke. Lt. Gov. Cooney and Lt. Gov. Sanchez then went on site to tour a health clinic specializing in care for diabetes patients with Dr. Stephan Martin. Participants also made their first visit to the State Legislature of North Rhine-Westphalia to meet with Parliamentary State Secretary Klaus Kaiser, Ministry of Culture and Science and Achim Kansy, Legislative Expert on Integration and Religious Policy for a discussion on issues of immigration and integration.
The following day began with a visit to a technology startup campus in Düsseldorf, Startup Dorf Düsseldorf, to learn about the opportunities and challenges that German startup companies are currently facing. Lt. Gov. Cooney and Lt. Gov. Sanchez then visited a youth detention center with Parliamentary State Secretary Dirk Wedel to learn more about the correctional system.
Following the site visit, participants returned to the North Rhine-Westphalia State Legislature for a meeting with Parliamentary State Secretary Joachim Stamp, Minister for Family, Children, Refugees and Integration for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Participants then attended a luncheon discussion with Representatives Angela Freimuth, MP, Vice President of the North Rhine-Westphalia State Legislature and Henning Höne, MP, Chief Whip of the FDP Caucus.
On the final day in Düsseldorf, Lt. Gov. Cooney and Lt. Gov. Sanchez met with Dr. Christian Henke, Director of Apprenticeships at the Chamber of Skilled Trades, Düsseldorf to deepen their understanding of the dual education system in Germany. They then visited and toured an apprenticeship center located in Hagen, a city near Düsseldorf.
Traveling to Berlin, the study tour began with an introduction to the work of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom at the Foundation’s headquarters in the historic Truman-Haus. Lt. Gov. Cooney and Lt. Gov. Sanchez then traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin for a meeting with Chargé d’Affaires Kent Logsdon to discuss the current state of U.S. and German relations.
To learn more about the health care system in Germany, participants visited a private insurance company and spoke with Dr. Marc-Pierre Möll, Head of the Department for Government and Parliament, Association of Private Health Insurance.
On the final day in Berlin, Lt. Gov. Cooney and Lt. Gov. Sanchez visited the Representation of the State of Schleswig-Holstein to the Federal Government office in Berlin to meet with Kurt-Christoph von Knobelsdorff, Head of the Economic Department, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport, Employment, Technology and Tourism in the state of Schleswig Holstein.
The FNF’s Transatlantic Dialogue Program would like to thank all participants for their wonderful engagement and contributions to the discussions throughout the week.
Anne-Marie Simon, Program Assistant, Transatlantic Dialogue Program, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.