The visit was originally scheduled for April but had to be pushed back several months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the Swedish Prime Minster to lunch at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. The challenges posed by the pandemic were on the agenda, Chancellor Merkel later reported at a press conference with Prime Minister Löfven.

EU recovery fund – a sign of solidarity

Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Löfven also discussed the European recovery fund agreed on by EU heads of state and government on 21 July after four days of consultations. The Chancellor spoke of a sign of solidarity, although “member states are coming from very different starting points”.

The Swedish Prime Minister and the German Chancellor agreed that it is now important to use the money to ensure that it can enable good, innovative investments in the future. “The competitiveness of the European Union and the innovative force of the European Union will be crucial for our geopolitical strength and for the question of how we can make a concerted stand in the world,” Chancellor Merkel stressed.

Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU conducting negotiations

Because Germany currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the German government is currently leading negotiations on the recovery fund and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) with the European Parliament. The Parliament still has concerns relating to the rule of law and the breakdown of the MFF, explained the Chancellor. The German side is endeavouring to find the best possible solutions with the European Parliament in a spirit of mutual respect, she said. “The crux of the matter, as I see it, is to ensure that the cash is available as of 1 January. That is why speed is of the essence,” said Angela Merkel. You can find more information on the new MFF here.

Current crises and next European Council meeting

The Chancellor and the Swedish Prime Minister’s meeting also covered international matters, including the situation in Belarus. Chancellor Merkel also reported that she had informed Prime Minister Löfven about the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The next meeting of the European Council on 24 and 25 September was another point on the agenda. Digitalisation will be one focus of the meeting. Germany and Sweden agree that progress must be made in this area, said Chancellor Merkel. She announced that the European Council would also be looking at relations with Turkey and China.