Mayor Andy Burnham signs new cooperation deal with German partners as leaders mark 75th anniversary

  • Mayor of Greater Manchester and GM leaders take part in mission to North-Rhine Westphalia to deepen links with German region
  • New agreement with Metropole Ruhr struck to strengthen cooperation on shared priorities, including climate action, sustainability and digital innovation
  • Richard Carter, former member of the Mayor’s Business Advisory Panel, appointed Special Advisor for Germany

A NEW cooperation agreement has been struck between Greater Manchester and Germany’s largest metropolitan region following a visit by city-region leaders to the country this week.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Stockport Council Leader and Greater Manchester Economy lead Cllr Elise Wilson, and other Northern leaders were part of a delegation that visited North-Rhine Westphalia from 2-3 September.

The mission, aimed at strengthening economic and cultural links in a changing Europe, saw the signing of the new partnership and the appointment of a Special Advisor for Germany. The newly created role will act as Greater Manchester’s ambassador to the country, fostering and enhancing new and existing relationships.

New strategic partnership

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. The signing of the agreement in Essen, attended by UK Consul General Rafe Courage, will establish a new strategic partnership between the two regions, recognising our shared industrial heritage and priorities for the future.

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.”

Joining the delegation from Greater Manchester, with the support of the Department for International Trade and The Growth Company, were Trailar – a company providing solar panels for commercial vehicles to power batteries with natural energy, which has a base in Oldham – and the Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, the £4m technology hub based at Manchester Metropolitan University leading the way in harnessing renewable energies.

Greater Manchester leaders also joined a special event in Essen to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia. The state – the most populous in Germany and with the largest GDP – was established after World War II by the British administration at the time.

The mission follows a visit by German Ambassador to the UK Andreas Michaelis last month, during which he met with the Mayor and a number of businesses in the city-region.

Cllr Elise Wilson, Greater Manchester Lead for the Economy, 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.”

Special Advisor for Germany

Recognising the importance of the economic links between Greater Manchester and Germany, Richard Carter has been appointed as the city-region’s first Special Adviser for Germany. Richard is a former MD of German chemical company BASF, which has its UK base in Stockport, and previously sat on the Mayor’s Business Advisory Panel established in 2018.

The role – carried out on a voluntary basis – will support trade and cultural connections between Greater Manchester and Germany, helping partners foster and enhance new and existing relationships.

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.”

Article Published: 03/09/2021 17:21 PM