German Chancellor Angela Merkel presents the programme of Germany's EU Council Presidency to the European Parliament.

TR – 07/2020

On 1 July 2020, it was Germany's turn to take over the EU Council Presidency for a six month period. Exactly one week later, Angela Merkel presented the programme for the next six months to the European Parliament, which met in Brussels from 8 to 10 July. Right at the beginning she outlined the main points: "There are five issues that are particularly important to me at this time: our basic human rights, solidarity, climate protection, digitalisation and Europe's responsibility in the world."

Basic human rights must remain guaranteed

Human and civil rights are the most important assets in Europe and were fought for by previous generations. Although the pandemic necessitates the temporary restriction of elementary basic human rights it should not be a pretext for undermining democratic principles. The countries of Europe had fought for freedom and the rule of law in different ways throughout history, but the basic human rights they had won also represented the common thread: "the inviolability of human dignity, the freedom for individual personal, political and social development, protection against discrimination and disregard, and last but not least equality". 

 "Together for Europe’s recovery."

According to this motto of the German EU Council Presidency, we should work together to find solutions. Solidarity was a sustainable investment and will pay off. The European Parliament had an important role to play here as a mediator and enforcer in the 27 Member States. Social and economic justice would be crucial for solidarity, and for young people and children – the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and a Youth Work Agenda. Merkel added: "I am convinced that everyone is prepared to show extraordinary solidarity in this crisis. Germany certainly is."

Europe as a pioneer in climate protection

The climate protection programme presented by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in January 2020 should now be implemented by legally establishing Europe's carbon neutrality by 2050, initially 50 to 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. Europe had to set a good example in order to save our planet.

Digitisation as a pioneering model

In recent times, Europe's dependence in this area in terms of technology and services had become apparent. Europe would have to gain digital sovereignty, especially with regard to infrastructure, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Democracy needed effective protection against cyber threats and disinformation, so that lies and populism cannot thrive.

Europe's responsibility in the world

In the next six months, the following four priorities shall be of particular importance: firstly, the drafting of an agreement with the United Kingdom, which has left the European Union, or preparations for a no-deal Brexit; secondly, the accession conference with Northern Macedonia, possibly also Albania; thirdly, the EU-Africa summit, also to resolve migration and asylum issues; and fourthly, cooperation with China, characterised by trade links in the event of divergent socio-political views.

The Chancellor expressed her commitment to strengthening foreign and security policy and self-reliance in the health sector. She concluded with the message that "this Europe is capable of great things if we stand by each other and stick together".


Full text of Chancellor Merkel's speech to the European Parliament on 8 July 2020

Video of Chancellor Merkel's speech to the European Parliament on 8 July 2020