Germany on the big international stage: The Federal Republic takes over the presidency of the Council in the European Union until the end of the year and at the same time the presidency of the UN Security Council for one month. The main topic in both committees is the fight against the corona crisis. The expectations of the federal government are high.
EU budget framework
In the chair of the 27 EU countries, the first major goal is to achieve the next seven-year EU budget and a billion-dollar economic stimulus program in July. The planned trade pact with Great Britain after Brexit as well as climate protection, digitization and migration will also become important.
Industry President Dieter Kempf warned the federal government not to get bogged down. Kempf told the German Press Agency: “The success of the German Council Presidency must not be jeopardized by a long wish list with too high expectations.” The federal government must focus the presidency even more consistently on Europe’s economic recovery.
EU Parliament President David Sassoli, on the other hand, said of the German Council Presidency: “The priorities are right.” The federal government is setting the right priorities by first focusing on the multi-billion dollar corona reconstruction plan and the EU budget, he said Süddeutsche Zeitung (Wednesday).
Migration, green deal and expansion
Merkel “focuses on the goals that affect us all, such as migration, green deal and climate protection, and the question of enlargement”. It was her job to implement Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s motto: “We do not need a German Europe, but a European Germany.”
The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, sees the protection of refugees as a priority of the Council Presidency. Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR official for EU affairs, stressed that displaced people are at increased risk in the pandemic. “With political and financial support, the EU can help overcome a global crisis and better protect refugees.” Access to fair and fast asylum procedures is also important.
Tighten climate target, climate relevance of expenditure
The Greens want a climate presidency, as the newspapers of the Funke media group reported. One of its demands is to tighten the climate target: by 2030, the EU should reduce greenhouse gases by 65 percent, instead of 40 percent as previously planned, compared to 1990. All expenditure would have to be checked for climate relevance.
The 27 EU countries take turns in the presidency every six months. Germany takes over from Croatia and then surrenders to Portugal on January 1. The Presidency leads the meetings of the Council of Ministers responsible for legislation. There is also – confusingly – the permanent President of the Council, who heads the summits of the heads of state and government. This has been the Belgian Charles Michel since 2019.
Shadowed by the corona virus
The corona pandemic is still significantly restricting the work of the EU. The German EU ambassador Michael Clauss expects that only about a third of the otherwise planned personal meetings can therefore take place. That’s what Clauss said world (Wednesday).
Germany has been a member of the UN Security Council for two years since the beginning of 2019 and is now taking the chair for the second time for a month. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced a new initiative for a resolution on the corona pandemic, which has so far failed due to a conflict between the United States and China. In addition, the Security Council will soon have to deal with the planned annexation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank by Israel.