On July 13, German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to the government's guest house in Schloss Meseberg.

At a joint press conference following their meeting, she expressed her delight that it was at last possible to meet again in person. Many things happend over the last few months that one could not have anticipated when the European Council last met in February, Chancellor Merkel said.

Preparations for the meeting of the European Council

The visit revolved around preparations for the European Council meeting on 17 and 18 July. At the meeting, the heads of state and government will negotiate the planned recovery fund for the EU as well as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU's long-term budget.

Italy has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, Chancellor Merkel stressed. She paid tribute to the many people who have lost their lives. The pandemic “broke over us without anybody being to blame,” Chancellor Merkel declared. “That is why it is now our duty to act in a spirit of solidarity in order to overcome the consequences of this pandemic.”

Deliberations in a spirit of great friendship

The people in Italy “have come through these difficult weeks with admirable discipline and patience,” Chancellor Merkel said. That is why negotiations in Brussels should be conducted in a spirit of great friendship and solidarity.

The negotiations, added Chancellor Merkel, ought to “give all of us the opportunity to emerge from this major humanitarian disaster, and the resulting massive economic downturn, as well as possible.”

Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Conte in the gardens of Schloss Meseberg © picture alliance / Photoshot

Germany, like Italy and the other EU member states, has a vested interest in seeing the Single Market functioning properly. When value chains no longer function, it affects everybody to the same extent, said Chancellor Merkel. “That is why we are all equally responsible for finding a good way out of this situation for the European Union and for all the member states.”

A common goal

Chancellor Merkel pointed out that it had not proved possible to agree on the Multiannual Financial Framework in February. This has now become even more complex, as the goal now is to adopt it together with the recovery fund. Both countries support this goal.

Last week President of the European Council Charles Michel presented proposals for the fund. Every member state wants to add its own national interests, said Chancellor Merkel, but Germany and Italy agree on the basic structure.

Chancellor Merkel said she cannot say whether or not an agreement will be reached in Brussels, although she stressed that “We will be making a concerted effort to come to a solution on Friday.”