“We realise that Europe is surely in the most difficult situation it has faced in its history. That can be seen firstly in the virus, which we have not yet defeated,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “And we can see it from the economic data we are receiving. And that is true of all member states of the European Union.” At times like this, our solidarity is put to a very serious test, she stated.

At a video conference, the German government discussed with the European Commission the priorities of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which began on 1 July. At the following press conference, the Chancellor thanked the Commission and its President Ursula von der Leyen, who have repeatedly pointed out throughout the coronavirus pandemic how important it is not to forget our common interests in Europe.

Unprecedented plan for European recovery

Overcoming the coronavirus pandemic will be a major item on the agenda when the European Council meets on 17 and 18 July again in Brussels, said the Chancellor. In addition to the unrivalled plan for economic and social recovery in Europe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, issues that will be vitally important for the future, including climate action, digital sovereignty and Europe’s role in the world will be the main issues addressed. Negotiations with the United Kingdom and the reform of the European asylum system will also shape Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

“We look forward to working with the European Commission,” said the Chancellor. Everyone in the German government is motivated – that is a message that she can send to Brussels with absolute certainty, she added. During the meeting it also became apparent that there is a lot of work ahead.

Alongside the Chancellor, the German government was represented at the video conference by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier and Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer. For the European Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen, the Executive Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager, Valdis Dombrovskis and Frans Timmermans, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell and Commissioner for Home Affairs Ilva Johansson attended.