Public event

Priorities in the German federal election - Foreign policy

From the ongoing migration crisis, challenges within the NATO alliance, discussions on cooperation in digitalisation with China, and the polarisation of the Trump Administration, Europe has faced many foreign policy challenges in recent years.

Ahead of this key election year in Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s departure from the world stage, what changes can we anticipate from a new government and new leadership team in Berlin? If we read between the lines of the campaign platforms of the major parties, what changes are in store for Germany’s partners both within Europe, across the Atlantic and globally? As many countries turn inward to focus on the economic challenges unleashed by the pandemic, what role will Germany play on the international stage?

This event aims to discuss the foreign policy priorities of major parties in the German Bundestag and their views on European integration, transatlantic cooperation, security alliances and post-pandemic international cooperation among others.

Scene setter

Daniela Schwarzer is Executive Director for Europe and Eurasia of Open Society Foundations. Schwarzer is a renowned expert in European affairs and international relations. Since 2016, she has served as director and CEO of the German Council on Foreign Relations, where she has steered the organisation’s strategic repositioning and modernisation and has advised the EU Commission and national governments on European affairs. Prior to leading the German Council on Foreign Relations, Schwarzer was a member of the executive team of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she served as its senior director of research, as well as heading its Berlin office and Europe program from 2013 to 2016. She is an honorary professor of political science at Freie Universität Berlin and a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.



Norbert Röttgen has been the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag since 2014. From 2009 to 2012, he was Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. He has been a Member of the German Parliament since 1994. During his mandate Dr. Röttgen has fulfilled key functions within the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and is currently part of its executive committee. Dr. Röttgen, who is a lawyer by profession, holds a PhD in Law from Bonn University. He is the Co-Chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Governor at Ditchley Foundation and Board Member of various institutions, such as the Atlantik-Brücke, Asia House, Club of Three, the Hertie School and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

Nils Schmid has been a Member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) since September 2017 and serves as a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Since 2018, he has been the spokesperson on foreign affairs for the SPD parliamentary group. He also serves as a substitute member of the Committee on Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Additionally, he is a member of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly. From 1997 to 2017, Nils Schmid was a Member of the Baden-Württemberg Land Parliament. From 2011 to 2016, he served as Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and as Deputy Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg. Nils Schmid holda a degree and PhD in law from the University of Tübingen.
Schmid is a member of the executive committee of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and the council of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) among others.

Alexander Kulitz is elected MP at the German Bundestag, spokesperson on 'foreign economic relations and trade' for the 'Free Democratic Party' and member of the foreign affairs committee. Before his election into parliament, Kulitz served as President to the 'Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland e.V.', being the largest association of young executives and entrepreneurs in Germany. He is shareholder and executive board member of the family owned business, ESTA Apparatebau GmbH, accredited lawyer and chair of the advisory board of the RUF Automobile GmbH.Kulitz was heading the German Delegation of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance and delegated to the B20. In 2017 Kulitz has been awarded a senatorship of the Junior Chamber International, headquartered in St. Louis, MO.


Hannah Neumann is the Peace and Human Rights Coordinator for the Greens / EFA Group, Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee (DROI), Member of the committees on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and Security and Defense Policy (SEDE), as well as Chair of the Delegation for Relations to the Arabian Peninsula (DARP). Before joining the European Parliament, she was a self-employed expert and consultant for peace projects, i.a. in projects for the United Nations, the Society for International Cooperation, the European Commission, the DGAP, GPPi and aid organizations. She advised ministries and non-governmental organizations on campaigns on anti-discrimination, promotion of democracy, climate protection on the local level and human rights. From 2013 until 2016, she worked as policy advisor in the German Bundestag. Neumann studied media sciences and peace and conflict studies, which is also the subject she chose for her PhD.


Cornelius Adebahr is a Fellow at the Hertie School, a political analyst and entrepreneur based in Berlin, Germany, focusing on European foreign policy, global affairs, and citizens’ engagement. He is a fellow at Carnegie Europe in Brussels as well as the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin, and a member of the European Commission’s experts’ network, Team Europe. Since 2005, he has taught at various international universities, including Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt, Tehran University in Iran, and Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He is the author of "Europe and Iran: The Nuclear Deal and Beyond” (Routledge 2017) and "Learning and Change in European Foreign Policy: The Case of the EU Special Representatives“ (Nomos 2009). Cornelius studied Political Science (International Relations), Philosophy, Public Law, and International Economics in Tübingen, Paris, and at the Free University Berlin, where he graduated in 2001 before receiving his PhD (Dr. rer. pol.) in 2008. He has been awarded academic and professional scholarships inter alia from German Academic Scholarship Foundation, Fulbright Commission, Robert Bosch Foundation, and Volkswagen Foundation.


Photo credit: Portrait Nils Schmid © Susie Knoll