Having joined the the German- French Young Leaders team already back in 2015, James is one of the longest members of the association. His calm nature and open smile take you in immediately when you talk to him about the role of the European Union for its Member States and in the world - a field he knows very well as he works in its very center: at the European Commission in Brussels. Having been part of the German-French Young Leaders team from the very beginning, James studied law in Berlin, Paris and London. As a member of the Board and the treasurer of the German-French Young Leaders association, he is an important backbone of the organisation as he is in charge of finances and any legal question that may arise.
James, why did you decide to join GFYL?
Ilja, the president of our association, and I have known each other for more then 10 years now. Together we have worked on other European projects. When he told me about his vision that eventually would become GFYL, I was excited to team up with him again on an inspiring project. Also, I was immediately convinced that such initiative is needed to give a new dynamic to the Franco-German friendship.
What impact has the German-French friendship had on yourself?
The German-French friendship has enriched my personal and professional life enormously. My numerous stays in France and personal encounters have not only allowed me to make close friends for life, but also to gain inspiring new perspectives that today guide my commitment to Europe.
What do you consider yourself - German, European or anything else?
Being European means being able to have a multitude of identities. Me, I am Northern Frisian. I am German. In my heart I am French. I live in Belgium. All this makes me a European. Everyday when I work together with my French, Hungarian, Spanish colleagues in my office in Brussels on a Finnish, Cypriot or Polish case, I realize how European I am. Europe to me means: Diversity, Cooperation, Peace.
Why is it important that initiatives such as GFYL exist?
GFYL brings young leaders and influencers from both countries together that otherwise probably would not have met. They share their views on the challenges of tomorrow and start common initiatives. Thereby, GFYL gives a new dynamic to the German-French friendship and contributes to a better understanding of the importance of German-French cooperation.
What are your hopes and expectations for GFYL 2018?
2018 is an important year for GFYL. This initiative has grown rapidly in its short period of existence. It is now our responsibility to make this initiative a lasting pillar of German-French cooperation. This year's conference can make an important contribution to the debate on the future of Europe triggered by our patrons for GFYL 2018 that we will announce very soon.