Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has signed a new cooperation agreement with Germany’s most populous metropolitan region following a visit by city-region leaders to the nation this week.
In a trip on 2-3 September, a delegation from Greater Manchester including Mayor Andy Burnham and Stockport Council Leader Cllr Elise Wilson agreed a partnership with the Metropole Ruhr region of North-Rhine Westphalia to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two city-region’s. The visit took place as part of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, which was established by the British in the aftermath of World War Two.
As part of the visit, the Mayor and Cllr Wilson joined Prof Dr Hans-Peter Noll and Karola Geiß-Netthöfel of the Regionalverband Ruhr to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between Greater Manchester and Metropole Ruhr in light of the two city-regions’ shared industrial heritage and future priorities.
The mission, aimed at strengthening economic and cultural links in a changing Europe also saw the appointment of former BASF MD, Richard Carter, as Special Advisor for Germany, who will act as Greater Manchester’s ambassador to the country, fostering and enhancing new and existing relationships.
Under the agreement the two metropolitan regions will deepen cooperation and share best practice in areas including climate change, adaptation and mitigation; sustainable mobility and transport; digitisation and cybersecurity; innovation and research; and regional devolution. In addition to strengthening business and trade links, there will also be efforts to strengthen civic, cultural and educational connections, including the potential for youth exchanges.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:
“We are pleased to be signing this new partnership with our friends in the Ruhr metropolitan area of Germany. We already have so much in common, from our industries past and present to our love of football, and this agreement will only strengthen those bonds, bringing a range of economic and social benefits to both regions.
“Greater Manchester has always been active on the world stage and, as the UK’s relationship with Europe changes, we can play a new role in fostering greater collaboration between ourselves and partner city-regions. We all face the enormous challenge of rising to the climate challenge, but we will have more chance of success if city-regions like Metropole Ruhr and Greater Manchester face it together. Our shared history of technological innovation makes us ideal partners to bring on the green industrial revolution.”
Cllr Elise Wilson, Greater Manchester Lead for the Economy and Stockport Council leader, said:
Germany is one of our closest partners, and since 2017 around 1,000 jobs have been created through investment by German companies in our city-region. In 2019, more than 1,200 Greater Manchester businesses exported over £805m worth of goods to Germany.
“This visit has been an opportunity for us to celebrate our shared history, but also to look ahead and determine how we can actively promote and deepen those economic and cultural connections between Greater Manchester and our German partners. The agreement we’ve signed with Metropole Ruhr will provide a real boost to those efforts. As our new Special Advisor, Richard Carter will also play a key role in linking up Greater Manchester businesses with opportunities in Germany, and promote our city-region as a great place to invest in jobs and people.”
Richard Carter, Greater Manchester Special Advisor for Germany, said:
Germany is one of Greater Manchester’s most important international partners and maintaining a strong relationship is hugely important. We value the links that have already been made, in areas like trade, investment, and research and innovation, and want to see these grow in the years to come.
“This visit is the latest step in developing a relationship between Greater Manchester and the Metropole Ruhr, part of North Rhine-Westphalia, that will see us co-operate on topics like tackling climate change and building an innovation-led economy. Both regions have a proud industrial heritage and today share many of the same interests, sector strengths and challenges.
“We also want to promote Greater Manchester as an attractive destination for inward investment and ensure businesses from our city-region continue to benefit from trade with German partners. I look forward to playing a role to help people on both sides strengthen these ties.”