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"Strengthening Europe's role as an anchor of stability“

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Presidency of the Council of the European Union "Strengthening Europe's role as an anchor of stability“

Mastering the coronavirus pandemic will be the main focus of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel has now outlined the foreign and security policy priorities of Germany’s Presidency. At times of crisis in particular Europe should demonstrate global solidarity and accept more responsibility, she said.

3 min reading time

Flag of the European Union

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union offers the "chance to hone Europe as a force for solidarity and action and as a positive driving force," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Photo: picture alliance / Bildagentur-online/Ohde

"A virus with a diameter of 140 nanometres has become a global force to reckon with," noted Chancellor Angela Merkel with a view to topical worldwide issues. Mastering the coronavirus pandemic will thus also be a major part of common foreign and security policy for some time to come, she said, addressing an event organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Germany aims to use its Presidency to strengthen Europe internally so that it can act as "an anchor of solidarity and stability" in its external relations. "Together, we want to lead Europe to new strength," declared the Chancellor. 

The leitmotif is cohesion and solidarity. Germany and its partners within the EU demonstrated practical solidarity when the pandemic hit. Only a stronger Europe with well-established values can engage worldwide. "I see Germany’s Presidency as a chance to hone Europe as a force for solidarity and action and as a positive driving force, which accepts responsibility for peace and security in the world," said Angela Merkel.

USA still the most important partner

More independence is important for Europe. At the same time, however, "Europe cannot stand alone on the world stage" – we need partners and allies. The USA is the most important partner for Europe declared Angela Merkel, even if "cooperation is currently more difficult than we would wish". This is true in the fields of climate and trade policy, and with respect to the importance of international organisations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angela Merkel underlined the fact that transatlantic relations are a key pillar of foreign and security policy that we must retain in our own interests. "We must never forget that Europe is not neutral," the Chancellor stated. "Europe is part of the political West." If Europe wants to assert itself in the world it will have to take its fate into its own hands to a greater extent, while still "acting as a reliable partner within the western community of values and shared interests". 

Relations with Russia – generating new impetus

Cyberattacks on western democracies or the unlawful annexation of Crimea – Russia has repeatedly demonstrated its readiness to violate the fundamental provisions of international law. Angela Merkel emphatically condemned Russia’s violations of international law. "For Europe, the basis of a constructive relationship is not the right of the stronger, but the strength of what is right," she stressed.

Here, the German Presidency offers a chance to introduce impetus based on European values into relations with Russia. "This is why, since I first became Chancellor, I have worked to foster critical and constructive dialogue and peaceful coexistence," said Angela Merkel.

Dialogue with China – emphasising western values

In the light of the tensions between China and the USA, a critical but constructive dialogue with China is particularly important. As one of the main actors of this century, the People’s Republic of China plays a key role on the world stage. Nevertheless, the EU and China do not share major values. Europe should emphasise values such as the rule of law, liberty, democracy and human rights with self-confidence in cooperation with China.

Cooperation with Africa on the basis of partnership

Africa will be another priority of the EU’s foreign policy, said the Chancellor. At the EU’s summit meeting with the African Union in October, it is not only the COVID-19 pandemic that will be on the agenda, but also climate change, migration, economic issues and security. The aim is to achieve intensified cooperation on the basis of partnership.