‘Serious times’: Merkel kicks off EU presidency with Brexit warning

Source: The Local

'Serious times': Merkel kicks off EU presidency with Brexit warning

Germany has set itself an ambitious agenda for the EU presidency, which observers say may be the last chance for outgoing chancellor Merkel to shape
her European legacy.Her main goal is to push through a massive economic recovery plan to help the 27-member club cope with its steepest recession since World War II, triggered by a pandemic that has so far killed more than 500,000 people worldwide.”We are living in very serious times and need to react accordingly,” Merkel told German MPs.The chancellor, who has just over a year left in her final term, has thrown her political weight behind the proposed €750 billion recovery fund.The fund would controversially be financed through shared EU borrowing, in a stunning U-turn for Germany after years of opposition to debt pooling.”An extraordinary situation requires a special solution,” said Merkel.The first big test of Germany’s EU custodianship will come at a July 17th-18th EU summit, where Merkel hopes leaders will reach an agreement on the recovery fund.The money is expected to come mainly in the form of grants for countries hit hardest by the pandemic, such as debt-laden Italy and Spain.But so-called frugal nations including Austria and the Netherlands want to rein in the spending and are insisting on loans rather than grants.Merkel has urged holdout nations to show unprecedented solidarity with hard-hit neighbours, warning that an uneven recovery could undermine the EU single market and end up harming stronger economies too.

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