by Keith Zahra
German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted Germany’s priorities as it assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, putting on top of the agenda a swift agreement on the European Union’s mass economic stimulus to advance unity that would strengthen the bloc as it recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
Merkel presented the priorities to MEPs in Brussels during a plenary session, during which she called the pandemic the biggest challenge ever for the EU, as the euro zone economy is set to shed a record 8.7 percent this year.
“Europe will emerge from the crisis stronger than ever if we strengthen cohesion and solidarity,” she added. Merkel underlined the need for solidarity across the 27-nation EU, which has been tested in recent months as governments acted alone to secure medical kits or tighten their borders.
Merkel indicated five areas that Europe needs to work on if it wants to emerge unified and strong from the current crisis: fundamental rights, solidarity and cohesion, climate change, digitisation, and Europe’s role in the world. She pointed out that “Germany is prepared to show extraordinary solidarity” to build a Europe that is green, innovative, sustainable, more digital, and competitive. “Europe is capable of achieving great things if we work together and stand together in solidarity”, concluded the German Chancellor.