Editor's note

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 08.08.2020, 08:43

German Council Presidency in pandemic time

Eugene Eteris, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 02.07.2020.Print version

The country’s Council Presidency in the coming six months will be operating under difficult practical conditions created by the pandemic, which have impeded physical meetings and have forced the whole EU’s governing system to change. This time, as never before, it could be called a “virtual Presidency” with new forms of online discussions in forging joint positions.

The focus of the German Presidency is mainly on the concentrated efforts by the EU institutions and the member states to overcome the COVID-19 crisis; hence the Presidency’s motto: Together for Europe's recovery. However, the “German team” has taken into account some other though not less urgent issues, such as the EU-US and global economic and political relations, the transitional measures in the states towards sustainability, as well as the security challenges in northern Europe and the Baltic Sea Region, etc. 


German government has already prepared financial means in the “post-pandemic exit strategy”,  which (among other things) included a Franco-German initiative for a €500 billion “recovery fund” aimed to support to the most affected sectors and regions in the EU states. Therefore, one of the main priorities during the Presidency would be reaching a consensus on the revised Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the next seven years with “recovery means” to allow the European Commission to borrow necessary resources on the global financial markets.

Presidency’s strategy

The German program is based on the following guiding principles:

- overcoming the consequences of the coronavirus crisis for the long-term as well as economic and social recovery,

- a stronger and more innovative Europe,

- towards a “fair” and sustainable Europe,

- increasing European security and common values, and

- making a strong Europe in the world.

Source: German Presidency’s official website at:

https://www.eu2020.de/eu2020-en/aktuelles/article/-/2357724

 

The presidency of the Council of the European Union (or just “the Council”) rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. During the 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council while helping to ensure the continuity of the European integration process in the Council of Ministers.

 

Troka’s common program

However, the member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called “trios” or trilogies; the system which was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. As a rule, the trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the topics and major issues that is addressed by the Council over 18-month period; the present program was adopted in November 2018.


More in: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc 


On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries - the current trio is made up of the presidencies of the Romania, Finland and Croatia – is preparing its own more detailed 6-month program.


Reference to: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/presidency-council-eu/


That is why the key feature throughout the three Presidencies are: the European “green deal”, the EU’s “digital future”, the Research and Innovation (R&I) program, as well as implementation of the European Action Plan on Circular Economy, the new jobs and skills program, as well as the general measures to increase the member states’ competitiveness, etc.   


Source: “Taking forward the Strategic Agenda: 18-month Programme of the Council”-1 July 2020 - 31 December 2021; in:

https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-8086-2020-REV-1/en/pdf

Towards ”future of Europe”

German Presidency has an important task to complete following strong initiatives to make the EU governing system more modern, visible and meaningful to citizens’ daily lives.

In this regard, a conference on the “Future of Europe” (to end up in mid-2022), would be another “political priority”; in fact, it was French and German governments that initiated in November 2019 the idea of a Conference on the Future of Europe.


The idea was supported by the Commission and the European Parliament, with an aim of sketching up short- and long-term goals for the EU’s future with the necessary reforms in European integration; in January 2020, the Parliament adopted a resolution setting out its vision for the Conference with 494 votes for, 147 against and 49 abstentions (out of nine Conference’s working group four members are from Germany). It has to be noticed, however, that the conference’s idea stems from a previous Commission’s College: it was adopted in a White Paper on the Future of Europe in March 2017.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/future-europe/white-paper-future-europe_en

 

In the next six months, much will depend on the Germany’s presidency method and style; as the leaders of the Franco-German Institute put it: to exercise “its responsibility for Europe” Germany would have to explore its leadership abilities in the continent, something that the member states are both asking for and afraid of…

Source: https://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/doc/questions-d-europe/qe-565-en.pdf

 

 





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