On 1 July, Germany picked up the baton from Croatia at the helm of the Council of the EU in what will probably be its most challenging presidency so far, with Europe facing the biggest economic, social and health crisis in its modern history.  

Germany, who will hold the Presidency for the 13th time since the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957,  has already announced that its programme will focus directly on overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and on shaping the EU's economic recovery as well as on reinforcing Europe's social cohesion.

The priorities of its presidency – whose motto will be "Together for Europe's recovery" – were presented at the EESC plenary by German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier.

The German minister told the plenary that "We all realise that we can only really effectively fight this pandemic by working together. We can only hope to be successful if the EU and its Member States stick together, if we show solidarity towards the weaker, if we refuse to allow ourselves to be divided. This is why dealing with this crisis is our key priority. We want to ensure that there will be real solidarity for our citizens and that they can see it and feel it for themselves."

The quick adoption of a revamped and ambitious Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Next Generation Recovery Plan proposed by the Commission to respond to the social and economic fallout of the pandemic would be the first step in this direction, Mr Altamaier said.

Apart from the negotiations on the MFF, Germany is expected to deliver on other pressing issues too, such as climate protection and the European Green Deal, digital transformation, the rule of law and Europe's role in the world. The EU's future relationship with the United Kingdom should also be determined during the German mandate.

The EESC is ready to contribute to the work of the German presidency and to ensure the voice of Europe's civil society is heard during these most dramatic and crucial times for Europe and its future.

"The EESC is ready to join forces to help shape and implement the Next Generation EU recovery plan to lead us out of this devastating crisis while strengthening the European project. We remain committed to the work of the German presidency, leading a Europe that heals and protects together and relaunching a solidarity-based, entrepreneurial and sustainable Europe for a new rEUnaissance," the EESC president Luca Jahier declared.

The EESC has already been asked by the German presidency to produce 10 opinions on topics including the platform economy, sustainable supply chains and decent work in international trade, non-profit social enterprises and their potential for a socially equitable Europe, digitalisation and sustainability, and many others.

The EESC voiced its satisfaction with the fact that one of the priorities of Germany's presidency is to reach an agreement on the Conference on the Future of Europe, in which the EESC is expect to play a strategic and pivotal role.

You can find out more about the EESC's cooperation with the German presidency in the newly published  brochure. (ll)