To prepare the next rotating EU- Council Presidency when Germany will take over on the 1st of July 2020, group leaders in the European Parliament will today hold two video conferences with German representatives: at 11:00 with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the Head of the Federal Chancellery Helge Braun, and at 15:00 with the President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble, the President of the Bundesrat Dietmar Woidke and group leaders in the Bundestag.
Speaking ahead of these meetings, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament outlined their expectations for the incoming German EU-Council Presidency.
Iratxe García, S&D Group leader, said:
“Germany will hold the EU-Council Presidency during turbulent times. We expect the German government to put the fight against COVID-19 and its socio-economic consequences at the heart of its programme. Our Union is aching for an ambitious recovery plan. Our hardest hit sectors and regions need an economic lifeline, our workers a social safety-net, and Europe the courage to build a joint future. Now, we have the unique opportunity to set the course to a fair, social and sustainable future by designing the Recovery Fund according to our political priorities. With the Green Deal and the Social Pillar, the EU has mapped out its vision for a good future. Now it is time to make it a reality.
“We welcome the intention of the German government to make the rule of law one of their priorities. Under the guise of the fight against the coronavirus, Orbán and Kaczynski have pushed their illiberal agendas and again violated democratic principles. Undermining European values and fully receiving EU-funds cannot go together.
“COVID-19 pushed our health systems to the limit. This must never happen again. Health is a public good. We must ensure that each and every European has access to quality health services, ensure secure supply chains and medical innovation. We are keen to hear the German Council Presidency's ideas for a health Union.
“The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic make it even more urgent to engage in an ambitious debate on the future of Europe with EU citizens and all stakeholders. Therefore, we reiterate our call on the Council to come forward as soon as possible with an ambitious position on the Conference on the Recovery and the Future of Europe.
“Recent proposals for a Recovery Fund put forward by the German coalition government clearly carry the fingerprints of our progressive and pro-European German SPD comrades and demonstrate a strong commitment to build a good future for Europe. On this basis, we look forward to constructive discussions and cooperation in the coming months. Europe must come out of this crisis stronger and more united.”
Jens Geier, Chairman of the German SPD delegation, stated:
“The Social Democrats in the federal government want the German EU-Council Presidency to bring real progress to the European Union: Europe must become fairer, more social and sustainable.
“The German government is now called upon to promote its strong proposal for a COVID-19 Recovery Fund among EU member states. Contrary to the ideas of some conservatives, the Recovery Fund is the right tool to make the Green Deal a reality and promote renewable energies, hydrogen economy and digitalisation. Thanks to the Social Democrats in the coalition government, the proposal now includes not only loans but also grants for hard hit regions, a real progress.
“To strengthen Europe, the German EU-Council Presidency must strengthen the EU budget by moving away from national budget contributions and towards more EU own resources. A levy on plastics and kerosene, the extension of the EU Emissions Trading System to aviation and maritime transport - many good proposals are already on the table, among them those put forward by the European Parliament. By introducing the possibility in the next Multiannual Financial Framework to cut the regional funds of governments violating the rule of law, the incoming Presidency could bring real progress for Europe. No EU-funds for breaking fundamental rights!
“The people who are really keeping Europe and our societies afloat need protection across borders: our workers. We will not accept any more delays of our social democratic proposal of a European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme. This Fund must stand ready to support the unemployment systems of crisis-hit EU countries. For the sake of employees, the incoming Presidency must push for the EU Minimum Wage Framework in the Council. Only together can we build our future.”