1 July not only marks the start of Germany’s Presidency of the EU Council but also that of a special alliance with Portugal and Slovenia. During the Trio Presidency, that is to say their consecutive Council Presidencies, the three countries intend to set joint priorities. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic presents the Trio Presidency with major new challenges: the joint 18-month programme has to be amended and updated. The worldwide fight against the virus and its economic impact will require new priorities to be set. Furthermore, social distancing rules will continue to have a major effect on work within EU bodies.
During today’s virtual meeting with the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas was keen to focus on the current COVID-19 situation and the robust European responses which now have to be launched one after another. Yesterday, Germany, the European Commission and other states sent a clear message: 7.4 billion euros for a joint global response to the pandemic were pledged at a donor conference. In the view of Heiko Maas, this shows:
If we act credibly in a spirit of solidarity on our continent, then Europe can also assume global leadership.
At a time when others are retreating from global responsibility, the world has huge hopes and expectations of Europe. There is confidence that the EU is willing to show solidarity not only internally but also externally, that is to say on a global scale. Germany and Portugal firmly believe that we will either defeat the virus globally and jointly or not at all.
Joint programme for the Trio Presidency
Together with Portugal and Slovenia, Germany is currently revising the joint programme for the Trio Presidency of the EU Council. In the short term, the main goal will be to optimise crisis management and to coordinate the exit strategies within the EU. In the medium and long term, we will focus on driving forward economic recovery and learning the right lessons from the crisis. In his talks with Santos Silva today, Maas stressed once more the special responsibility which their countries shoulder.