Stabilization and fundamental rights, priorities during Germany’s Presidency of the EU Council

by Thorsten Koch

Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized in the face of the EU Council Presidency that fundamental rights in the European Union (EU) come first. The Corona pandemic is a challenge for the EU, she said.

Maintaining fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, equality and religious diversity are the focus of the German EU Council Presidency. Merkel called them the foundation and “most valuable asset” and emphasized that they are dear to her. The Chancellor spoke before the members of the EU Parliament.

Never undermine democratic principles

In view of the continuing pandemic, the partial restriction of fundamental rights is a high price, she explained. Fundamental rights should only be restricted “for very important reasons and only for a very short time”. In the context of European stability and cohesion, she added: “A pandemic must never be an excuse to undermine democratic principles.” The pandemic is unique in the history of the EU. Merkel wants to reach an agreement on finances this summer. This requires great willingness to compromise, she pointed out.

An economic dimension

The social dimension is just as important as the economic dimension. There must be help for particularly affected regions. But even the “economically strong” should not be overburdened, Merkel said.

On July 17, the 27 EU heads of state and government want to reach an agreement on the 1.7 trillion Euro financial package with reconstruction funds to overcome the economic crisis. In addition to the preservation of fundamental rights and cohesion, the focus of Germany’s EU Council Presidency is on resilience to crises, digitization and climate protection. Merkel emphasized that global climate protection is only possible if Europe plays a leading role.

Merkel also mentioned that she wants to set limits to populism, which denies facts, fight lies and disinformation, hatred and agitation.

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