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Government statement on the European Council meeting

Europe must speak with one voice

Before the European Council met, Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a government statement in the German Bundestag. She spoke about Brexit, Turkey, the situation in northern Syria and the most important European issues for the future.

Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a government statement in the German Bundestag.

The Chancellor delivers a government statement in the German Bundestag - an appeal to Europe's stengths

Photo: Bundesregierung/Schacht

Speaking before the European Council meeting, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom is in everybody’s best interests. In a government statement to the German Bundestag she strongly condemned Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria. "It is a humanitarian drama with major geopolitical consequences."

The action against Kurdish units also risks engendering a revival of the Islamic State (IS). Angela Merkel thus welcomed the fact that Germany and its European partners have agreed not to supply Turkey with any more weapons. The Chancellor did, however, stress that she would continue to work for the refugee agreement with Turkey. "It is saving lives " and preventing "smugglers and human traffickers gaining the upper hand again".

EU accession prospects for the Western Balkan states

Angela Merkel again advocated giving Albania and North Macedonia prospects of accession to the EU. A European prospect is the best way to ensure rule-of-law developments in the two Western Balkan states and thus the best way to ensure prosperity and security within Europe. The concerns of other EU partners, however, mean that the chances of opening accession negotiations are not good, she admitted.

Faire burden sharing for Germany

The Chancellor does not expect discussion of the multiannual financial framework to produce an agreement yet in Brussels. She spoke out in favour of a fair sharing of burdens and a rebate for Germany. Germany will be disproportionately badly affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom. And, she said "states that fail to comply with rule-of-law principles when spending European funds" should no longer benefit financially without restriction from Europe.

"Europa must set its own priorities"

The Chancellor also appealed to Europe to use its strengths "Europa must set its own priorities" in climate action as in the field of digitalisation. She also welcomed the geopolitical alignment of the new European Commission. Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing global situation, "Europe can no longer afford to diverge on major foreign-policy issues."

For this reason, Germany would like to make the relations between the European Union and China one of the priorities of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2020 and intends to host an EU-China summit next year in Leipzig.

In her government statement the Chancellor also looked back at the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago. The courage of the people of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) reminds us "how worthwhile it is to fight for our convictions, values and goals in future too, particularly in terms of a united Europe."

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