Germany supports France for a “more sovereign” Europe as Paris prepares to take EU presidency

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France and Germany bear a “special responsibility” to make the European Union a stronger world power as Paris assumes the rotating presidency of the bloc, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told AFP on Friday.

The German coalition government has said it wants to increase the bloc’s “strategic sovereignty” as rivalries between world powers such as the United States, China and Russia negatively affect the EU.

French President Emmanuel Macron has long envisioned a stronger European Union, saying he aims to make it “powerful in the world” during the six-month French presidency of the European Council which begins on January 1.

Germany will also host the next G7 summit in June as chairman of the Rich Democracies Group, giving the EU a chance to establish global diplomatic leadership in 2022.

The two countries, “as closest friends at the heart of Europe, bear a special responsibility for a united European Union, capable of acting and looking to the future,” said Baerbock.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz clash their fists after holding a joint press conference following an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 17, 2021. © John Thys / Pool via Reuters

The French presidency is “an important opportunity that we want to seize together to strengthen Europe and prepare it to meet the challenges of tomorrow”, she added.

“Our French friends can count on our support from first to last to pave the way for a sustainable economic recovery, in the fight against the climate crisis, in digitization and for a more sovereign Europe.”

France’s priorities for its presidency of the European Council include a bloc-wide minimum wage, more regulation on digital giants and a carbon tax at borders.

(AFP)

Mary I. Bruner