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Leeds strengthens ties with Dortmund

Leeds and Dortmund are committing to strengthening relations with the re-signing of their Memorandum of Understanding today, following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Stadt Dortmund (Germany) has been twinned with Leeds for over 50 years with 2019 being the 50th year anniversary of the partnership. With the UK now out of the EU, the two cities wanted to reaffirm their ongoing and successful partnership by pledging to continue to work together across social, educational, cultural and economic exchange and to increase the prosperity of the city of Leeds and the city of Dortmund and their residents.

After World War II, cities all over Europe, particularly in Germany, France and the UK, started twinnings to nurture international understanding on a people to people level and to build peace between the nations of Europe. The friendship between Leeds and Dortmund dates back to 1969 and has developed into a strategic partnership which encourages cooperation around key city challenges, such as climate change, economic development and health and well-being. Recently, the partnership has seen the two cities sharing best practice around responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the early 2000s Leeds United helped the BVB Borussia Dortmund to develop a community hub for children and young people to learn about the dangers of radicalism and excluding others. Outside the world of football, there are also regular exchanges between Leeds and Dortmund that revisit the core themes of the city twinning.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“In renewing this Memorandum of Understanding during our most challenging times with the departure of the UK from the European Union and the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic goes to show how committed we are as a city to uphold these important connections and collaborate with cities outside of our own for mutual benefit. “We are very proud to be able to continue our partnership with the City of Dortmund which plays a crucial role in sharing experience and learnings to support the local economy and create jobs, to assist social and community cohesion, to nurture cultural diversity and to embrace internationalism.”

In 2019 the two cities celebrated 50 years of partnership with a host of activities taking place in Leeds as well as a visiting delegation from Dortmund which included the Mayor, Manfred Sauer. The celebrations concluded last year with Dortmund hosting an online exhibition called 50 Years Dortmund Leeds. What Connects Us which aimed to celebrate and strengthen connections based on cultural similarities.

Led by the Dortmund’s City Council and the artist association, Dortmunder Gruppe, the exhibition features a virtual collage made up of photographs from various artists and cultural professionals from Dortmund and Leeds. These images document visits, activities, projects, friendships and partnerships involving residents, institutions or associations from both cities. You can view the Dortmund 50th year exhibition online by visiting

The Mayor of Dortmund, Thomas Westphal said:

“I am very pleased that through this Memorandum of Understanding the City of Dortmund can renew and reinforce its commitment to a town twinning which dates back to 1969, after more than 50 years of successful cooperation. “In light of Brexit and the worldwide pandemic, the signing of this new agreement is a strong symbol for the basic idea of a united Europe. This Memorandum of Understanding promotes the bilateral cooperation between Leeds and Dortmund as big cities with closely linked communities. I would like to thank my colleague Councillor Judith Blake for initiating the signing of this new agreement.”

Plans are also in place to sign new Memorandum of Understandings with our other European partner cities including Lille in France and Brnó in the Czech Republic, underlining Leeds City Council’s commitment to international cooperation with partners across Europe.

Following the signing of the agreement Leeds also received a very special message from Leeds born and Borussia Dortmund Star Erling Haaland.

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