Discussion of European policy issues
This was the first visit by a foreign guest to be hosted by the Federal Chancellor in Berlin this year, so it was something of a special event. With the city basking in summer temperatures, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel received French President Emmanuel Macron at the Federal Chancellery on Friday evening. Their meeting covered a wide range of issues, in particular to coordinate in preparation for next week’s European Council meeting in Brussels.
Federal Chancellor Merkel said the European Council meeting on 24 and and 25 June would focus particularly on foreign policy issues and foreign policy sovereignty in relations with Russia as well as with Turkey.
“We’ll also be seeking to learn lessons from the experience of the pandemic, which taught us that we have to be as consistent as possible at European level. This also means ensuring our public administrations are capable of acting faster – at least in the case of Germany – and making the private sector more resilient,” said Merkel. “Clearly, we must continue to be vigilant regarding the spread of variants or mutants, as we’re seeing in the UK, but I believe we’ll be able to find a common line here, too.”
Relations with Russia and Turkey will be key items on the agenda next Thursday and Friday. The relationship with Russia had been a major issue at the G7 summit too, said the Federal Chancellor. “Russia is a big challenge for us – but it’s also the EU’s main continental neighbour. The fact is that we’re all exposed to hybrid attacks, and yet it’s very much in our interests to stay in dialogue with Russia – as difficult as that may be – if we want to maintain security and stability in the European Union.”
President Emmanuel Macron mentioned additional talking points: “We’ll also be talking about relations between the EU and third countries in the Mediterranean so as to be able to deal effectively with the issue of migration and prevent tragedies in the region, while at the same time developing a comprehensive approach to this key question that has preoccupied us for years.” Macron added that the two leaders would be able to make use of their meeting at the Federal Chancellery to touch on bilateral matters, too.
Further handling of the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic would definitely come up at the European Council meeting in Brussels, according to Merkel. Addressing the differing regulations in Europe, the Federal Chancellor said: “We can’t pretend that the coronavirus pandemic is over. On a summer evening such as this one might be tempted to think the whole thing was finished, but the example of Lisbon shows just how quickly that can change. And we still have a large proportion of the population who are not yet vaccinated and therefore not fully protected. So I do believe we have to continue to be careful if we want to have a summer with many freedoms but not yet all freedoms.”
EU leaders are due to discuss a wide range of topics at the European Council meeting in Brussels on 24 and 25 June: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery and migration. Foreign relations will also be on the agenda, especially relations with Turkey and Russia.