German Presidency committed to fighting coronavirus while tackling the issues that will define our future

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, © Felix Zahn/photothek.net

29.04.2020 - Article

Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, which is due to begin on 1 July, has revised its strategy in the light of the current crisis.

The Federal Government is committed to fighting the virus while also rebuilding Europe’s economy and, at the same time, making progress on climate change, the digital transformation and the EU Budget.

The goal is to overcome the pandemic while not losing sight of other key priorities. With this in mind, the Federal Cabinet today discussed options for a thematic realignment of Germany’s Presidency. In the words of Foreign Minister Maas:

There are high expectations of Germany to carry out this leadership role as an honest broker. The direction of travel is clear: Europe should emerge stronger and more integrated from the coronavirus pandemic.

The list of urgent items on the coronavirus agenda is long. Priorities include formulating an exit strategy, ensuring economic recovery in Europe and strengthening social cohesion. The Federal Government is seeking to learn the right lessons from the pandemic and make Europe more resilient in the process. Two things are important in helping Europe’s economy to recover: alongside the stabilisation measures we have already put in place, we need a comprehensive economic and social recovery package, facilitated by an adjusted EU budget and a reconstruction fund.

Other big issues remain on the agenda

The need to address the pandemic does not mean the major strategic issues of the day can be pushed into the background. On the contrary: climate change mitigation and the digital transformation remain high on the Presidency agenda. The future relationship with the United Kingdom also needs to be settled, if possible, by the end of 2020 – a significant challenge given the large number of unresolved issues.

Working together with our trio partners and the Commission

Germany’s efforts are closely interwoven with the agenda of the European Commission. In the coming weeks, the Commission will present its revised work programme: an important basis for finalising Germany’s planned initiatives. From July, Germany will also form part of a Trio Presidency of the Council of the EU, together with Slovenia and Portugal. This afternoon, Maas spoke with his Slovenian counterpart via a video conference. Both agreed that the Trio Presidency must also be substantially adapted to meet the demands of the coronavirus crisis and that it should revise its priorities. The aim now must be to optimise our management of the crisis and work together to advance Europe’s economic recovery.


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