Germany to spearhead EU coronavirus recovery efforts

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin would ensure an effective recovery when it takes up the EU presidency on July 1. Her remarks came after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin.

Chancellor Merkel said Berlin would spearhead efforts to ensure an effective post-pandemic recovery in the EU as it takes up the presidency of the EU Council on July 1.

“We are going to work together and make Europe fit for tackling this crisis,” Merkel said following talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin. “I’m very happy that we agree on the challenges that we want to overcome together.”

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Merkel noted that “expectations are high,” but said that Paris and Berlin were ready to rise to the task.

“The world is going to be different after the pandemic,” said Merkel. “We need to invest more into the future to meet those challenges.”

However, Merkel said questions concerning budgetary restrictions and the post-pandemic recovery fund will be dealt with further during a European Council summit at the end of July. “Europe is our future,” she said.

Germany, France and other EU countries are pushing for a €750 billion ($840 billion) rescue plan that would offer hard-hit countries grants through the European Commission without any obligation to repay them.

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Opposing that idea are the so-called “Frugal Four,” Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, who are opposed to any pooling of member states’ debts.

The French president visited Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague last week, and reportedly made progress towards the recovery plan. However, a source from the Elysee Palace said the country remained optimistic that a deal could be struck, but admitted “we are not there yet.”

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