The Covid-19 Pandemic as a Chance for an Updated German Foreign Policy

Keynote with German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn

Monday November 23rd 9:00 AM EST / 3:00 PM CET

Watch the recording here

Join this exciting virtual keynote of the German Minister of Health Jens Spahn on crisis leadership during the twenty-first century’s first global health crisis. Do the challenges imposed by Covid-19 set an impulse for changes not only concerning digitization but also for international cooperation? What does the crisis imply for an updated German foreign policy?

From one day to another, individuals all over the world had to adapt to completely uncertain circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic imposed global challenges, not only for health care systems worldwide, but also politically and economically. Rarely have leaders all over the world at all levels been faced with a comparable situation. Crises can make or break a society. This emphasizes the need for responsive governments and leaders implementing solutions if crises put communities to the test. 

Even though Germany is often praised for its cautious measures at an early stage of the pandemic, another big test for its society is yet to come: dealing with the worst recession since World War II. This requires solidarity and coordinated policy responses not only nationally, but also across nations. The dynamics of international relations have changed considerably in recent years. Germany is repeatedly expected to take a stronger role in international politics with completely new questions arising: What is the real situation regarding the European Union’s (EU) ability to act and European solidarity? How will we collaborate in the search and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine? What about Europe’s foreign policy power? What is Germany’s role in this and how do the future relations of Germany, the US, Europe and China look like? Will the “West” continue to stick together in the future? And how can our population, which has traditionally shown little interest in foreign policy, be taken along with the major changes in the future?

This keynote provides the unique opportunity to get insights from a rising star in German politics. Jens Spahn is the Federal Minister of Health who has dealt with unprecedented challenges when Covid-19 became a global threat. Join Minister Spahn’s keynote and a moderated discussion on the chances for an updated German foreign policy.


Jens Spahn

German Federal Minister of Health

Jens Spahn is a bank clerk and political scientist. Born in Ahaus in 1980, he was first elected to the German Bundestag in 2002, representing the Steinfurt I/Borken I constituency. He served as health policy spokesperson of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag from 2009 to 2015 and, from July 2015 to March 2018, as Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Finance. On 14 March 2018, he was sworn in as Federal Minister of Health.Spahn joined the Young Union (youth section of the CDU/CSU) in 1995 and the CDU in 1997. He has been chairperson of the Borken county branch of the CDU since 2005. In 2012, he became a member of the Federal Executive Committee of the CDU and was elected to the party’s Presidium at the CDU’s federal conference in Cologne in 2014.

From 2013 to 2017, he served as chairperson of the German-Netherlands Parliamentary Friendship Group. He is the editor of the book “Ins Offene – Deutschland, Europa und die Flüchtlinge” (Into the Open – Germany, Europe and the Refugees) that was published in November 2015. Together with two physicians, he wrote the book “App vom Arzt – Bessere Gesundheit durch digitale Medizin” (App your health – the benefits of digital medicine), which came out in September 2016.

Anne McElvoy

Senior Editor at the Economist and Head of Economist Radio

Anne McElvoy is Senior Editor of the Economist. She also writes on political and international affairs and heads Economist Radio, the company’s audio arm. Additionally, she writes a column on Britain and Europe for the Evening Standard. Anne is an experienced broadcaster and series maker of political history and current affairs. She is a presenter of Start the Week on BBC Radio4, the Moral Maze and Free Thinking for the BBC, and is currently making a documentary about the three months leading up to the official Brexit date. She has a First Class Honours Degree in German and Philosophy from Wadham College, Oxford and studied East German literature at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her two books on modern Germany include an award-winning international best-seller, Memoirs of a Spymaster, Markus Wolf. As The Times’s correspondent in East Berlin, she reported the fall of the Berlin Wall. Anne received the Journalist of the Year/Women in Public Life award in 2015.