Solidarity with Spain, tackling Covid-19 jointly as the EU

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in talks with Arancha Gonzalez Laya

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in talks with Arancha Gonzalez Laya, © Felix Zahn/photothek.net

24.04.2020 - Article

At the virtual first official visit by Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzáles Laya, Heiko Maas and his counterpart agreed that the coronavirus crisis required a joint response from the EU in a spirit of solidarity.

Spain has been particularly hard‑hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s relations with Germany are close and diverse. More than 10 million Germans travel to Spain every year, and an estimated half a million Germans even live there. Foreign Minister Maas had the following to say at their first bilateral “meeting” by video today:

The images from Madrid and many other regions have shocked us deeply. We all feel for the people in Spain – the country has taken very tough measures against the virus. I and many other Germans admire the discipline with which all of these measures are being implemented. We are also deeply moved by the courage and perseverance of the doctors and nurses fighting day and night to save the lives of those infected with the virus.

The objective: making Europe stronger than before the crisis

Europe was hit unexpectedly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Particularly at the beginning of the crisis, the continent was not well enough prepared to respond collectively. However, Europe has grown with each passing day of this crisis. Germany and its partner countries have found joint responses in a spirit of solidarity in almost all areas, whether in the procurement of medical supplies or in research into vaccines. With a view to a robust economic reconstruction, the EU and its member states have mobilised more than half a trillion euros in a very short space of time to overcome the crisis. It is also clear that even more money is needed to jumpstart the economy. Maas thanked Spain for making a most constructive contribution at the European level to discussions on a financially sound and far‑reaching response to the looming economic crisis.

Spain and Germany seek reform to EU asylum system

The two Foreign Ministers were also in agreement with respect to displacement and migration. Spain is making an indispensable contribution to European solidarity through its efforts in the western Mediterranean. Germany is also doing its part and is supporting the countries on the EU’s external borders – for instance, by taking in people rescued at sea from Italy and Malta or by taking in children from Greek camps. It is clear to both ministers that it is not always possible to rely solely on a “coalition of the willing” seeking solutions on a case‑by‑case basis: “Everyone in Europe must work to find solutions based on solidarity in this regard as well. It is crucial that we move swiftly forward with the reform of the Common European Asylum System towards greater efficiency and solidarity”, said Maas. “We are working together with Spain to this end.”


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