Mr Laschet, the leader of Mrs Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), outlined his support for the idea in a letter to Dr Reiner Haseloff, President of the Bundesrat, or Federal Council, the legislative body which represents Germany’s 16 regions. A resolution issued by the Bundesrat states that both North Rhine-Westphalia – of which Mr Laschet is the Minister-President – and Lower Saxony want the Federal Council to adopt a resolution “to intensify German-British relations”.
The Bundesrat will decide whether to adopt the proposals of the two states in a plenary session on Friday.
The resolution explained: “The Bundesrat notes that the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a close historical bond that has lasted for decades.
“The resulting German-British friendship is characterised by a diversity that is reflected in the close relationships in political and economic areas, as well as in particular in civil society, and cultural and scientific areas.
“This bond will continue regardless of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.”
The resolution added: “The Bundesrat welcomes the trade and cooperation agreement concluded between the European Union and the United Kingdom, and at the same time points out that beyond its area of regulation, there is scope for further understanding between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom on issues that exclusively concern the bilateral relationship.”
The Bundesrat welcomed the efforts of the Federal Government after the United Kingdom left the European Union to maintain and deepen the relationship with the United Kingdom on a bilateral level, the resolution explains.
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It said: “The exchange between German and British partners is constantly maintained and deepened, not least due to the pronounced commitment of civil society at regional and municipal level.
“This exchange makes an important contribution to mutual understanding and should therefore be further intensified. “
It was therefore important to support the citizens of both countries in actively shaping the German-British friendship, with City partnerships playing a “special role” in this.
The resolution added: “The Bundesrat calls on the Federal Government to pay particular attention to the promotion of youth and schoolchildren exchanges with a view to intergovernmental exchange.
“As the experiences of the Franco-German and the German-Polish Youth Offices show, a joint Youth Office can make a special contribution to strengthening the pupil and youth exchanges.
“The Federal Council would therefore welcome expanding the UK-German Connection accordingly.”
It was also important to strengthen ties between universities, the resolution suggested.
It said: “The promotion of the acquisition of the partner language, the promotion of the mutual recognition of school-leaving qualifications and the creation of German-British excellence instruments for research, education and training are of particular importance.”
In his letter, to Mr Haseloff, Mr Laschet said: “The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia has decided to forward the attached motion for a resolution of the Bundesrat on the structuring of the German-British relationship to the Bundesrat.
“I would like to ask you to include the submission in accordance with Section 36 (2) of the Bundesrat’s rules of procedure on the agenda of the Bundesrat meeting on June 25, 2021 and then to assign it to the responsible committees for discussion.”