Tomorrow, (1 July 2020), Germany will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months, succeeding Croatia in this important role.
Together with its Trio partners Portugal and Slovenia who will take turns as Presidency in 2021, Germany will focus its efforts on weathering the consequences of the corona pandemic while making Europe more resilient.
“No country can weather the crisis alone, in isolation” declared German Chancellor Angela Merkel, outlining the priorities of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU at the German parliament.
Cohesion and solidarity will therefore take centre stage during Germany’s Presidency while the Union is facing some of the greatest challenges in its history. The European Commission – the Union’s executive branch - has recently proposed a 750bn Euro package to support the recovery of the EU’s member states, based on a Franco-German proposal for a substantial economic recovery programme, particularly targeting Europe’s worst-hit regions. Facilitating swift agreement on this programme will be a key priority for Germany during its presidency in parallel to establishing a compromise regarding the Union’s regular multi-annual budget amounting to approximately 1.1tn (1,100bn) Euros for the period from 2021-2027. These huge figures are testament to the solidarity among EU member states as we aim to spend money where it is needed the most to equip the Union for the future.
“Initial reflexes in face of the corona pandemic – in Germany and elsewhere – to take a national approach […] were not a good idea.” Chancellor Merkel continued. And the pandemic proves to us, that international co-operation is more important than ever, both within the EU and between the EU and other parties.
Covid-19 does not stop at borders; neither should our solidarity and co-operation. We will only be able to overcome this crisis if we can get a grip on it globally.
This not only holds true in our efforts to overcome the corona pandemic and its social and economic repercussions but even more poignantly when it comes to combating climate change.
During Germany’s Presidency, we will therefore jointly work towards the objectives of the EU’s Green Deal, towards a climate-neutral and green Europe and towards achieving the sustainable development goals in a multilateral framework.
Other important issues during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU will include the digital transformation of EU economies, strengthening social cohesion and the Rule of Law.
Finding a comprehensive and permanent solution for migration to the EU is also among our priorities. We need to increase efforts to fight human trafficking and prevent illegal migration while addressing the root causes of migration and forced displacement.
Last but certainly not least, the EU and the United Kingdom will need to address their future relations as the UK will cease to be a member of the Union at the end of this year following a referendum in 2016.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has recently stated that “we stand before historic challenges, but the opportunity for change is also of a historic scale.” And as a founding member of the European Union and its predecessors, Germany strongly believes that these challenges can best be tackled together. We have therefore given our Presidency the motto “Together for Europe’s recovery” – so let us work together on these huge challenges and let us not be intimidated by their extent.
We are looking forward to continuing our dialogue with our Qatari partners in order to tackle these issues jointly wherever possible.
In a virtual ceremony on 1 July celebrating the start of Germany’s presidency, Germany, together with representatives from the EU Delegation accredited to Qatar and high-ranking representatives of the Foreign Ministry of the State of Qatar, have shared their views on possible ways to further strengthen our co-operation on these matters.
*Germany’s ambassador to Qatar, Hans-Udo Muzel, on the occasion of the start of Germany’s local Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July / Doha
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