"Filling the motto of the Presidency with life"

Germany assumes Presidency of the Council of the European Union "Filling the motto of the Presidency with life"

Since 1 July, Germany has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Speaking in the German Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel looked ahead to the special tasks and challenges in the next six months. During the night, the Brandenburg Gate was illuminated with the motto of Germany’s Presidency, "Together for Europe’s recovery".

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is illuminated with the motto of Germany's Presidency of the Council of the European Union - a "Together for Europe's recovery".

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin: "Gemeinsam. Europa wieder stark machen." (Together for Europe's recovery)

Photo: Bundesregierung/Plambeck

"Today, Germany takes over the six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union at a difficult time. Obviously, our Presidency will be shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and by efforts to contain the pandemic and deal with its consequences," said Chancellor Angela Merkel. She used question time in the German Bundestag to say a few words at the start of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Angela Merkel described Germany’s efforts to reach an agreement in the European Council on the unprecedented plan to support economic and social recovery in Europe. "We – and I personally – will stand by the President of the European Council [Charles Michel] during the rotating Presidency. I will be supporting his endeavours to achieve swift agreement to make a speedy and sustainable economy recovery possible."

Launch in the German Bundestag

In front of members of the German Bundestag, the Chancellor declared, "Your expectations of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union are high. On behalf of the entire German government I can tell you that we are determined to do everything we can to ensure that we Europeans move forward together." She asked parliamentarians to advance the goals of Germany’s Presidency in their contacts with the national parliaments of the other member states. The massive challenges facing us can only be addressed together, she said. "Let us fill the motto of the Presidency with life – Together for Europe’s recovery."

Some of the following questions put to the Chancellor by the members of the German Bundestag touched on the other priorities of the Presidency, including climate action, digital sovereignty and Europe’s role in the world.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in the German Bundestag.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German Bundestag: Germany will work for economic and social recovery in Europe.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

On 1 July 2020, Germany assumed the rotating six-monthly Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The nation holding the Presidency chairs meetings at every level of the Council and ensures continuity in the work of the Council during that period.

Passing on the baton

Yesterday Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković handed over the "virtual baton  to Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Chancellor thanked her counterpart for Croatia’s engagement during its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union and stressed that the German Presidency will now build on the achievements of Croatia’s Presidency in negotiations within the Council.

At the Brandenburg Gate, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (at right) is handed the symbolic baton by his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radmann.

Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (at right) with his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radmann - the symbolic hand-over of the baton in front of the Brandenburg Gate

Photo: AA/Florian Gärtner/photothek.net

On Wednesday, Croatia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman came to Berlin. In front of the Brandenburg Gate he handed over the symbolic baton to his German counterpart, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas.

Heiko Maas pointed to the close links between the two Presidencies. "Only rarely do we have events like this pandemic, whose historic dimension is very obvious. That is why the pandemic will also be a hinge that forges a link between our Presidencies." It is thanks to Croatia that the Council has retained its ability to act, ensuring the Europe has been able to take action even at the peak of the pandemic.