Online discussion on the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union organised by MEUSAC and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Malta – July 8, 2020
The European Union’s plans for a resilient recovery from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the new Multiannual Financial Framework, the European Green Deal, digitalisation, the rule of law, shaping the future relationship with the United Kingdom, and Neighbourhood Policy in the context of Migration were the main issues raised during an online discussion to mark the start of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union being steered by Germany between 1 July and 31 December 2020.
The online discussion was moderated by Ms Mandy Falzon, Head of MEUSAC.
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Malta, H.E. Walter Haßmann spoke of his country’s presidency’s direct focus on overcoming the pandemic by driving forward the EU Council’s work on fighting the spread of the virus, supporting the European economy to recover and reinforcing social cohesion in Europe. To achieve this, as a neutral broker at the helm of the EU Council, Germany is committed to reinforce joint approved action, solidarity and common values.
Driven by its motto, ‘Together for Europe’s Recovery’, Ambassador Haßmann spoke of the German Presidency’s priorities for a long-term economic and social recovery, a stronger and more innovative Europe, a fair and sustainable Europe, a Europe of security and common values and a strong Europe in the world.
During the discussion, Ambassador Haßmann was joined by the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Carmelo Abela, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Hon. Evarist Bartolo, and the Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds, Hon. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.
Minister Carmelo Abela said that Member States need to act together to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their economies. However, this has to be done in a human way. Sustainability is the key to achieve this by addressing three pillars, namely the economic, social and environmental aspects. The way we act today should not hinder or damage future generations.
Minister Evarist Bartolo noted that achieving solidarity in migration is one of the major challenges that the German Presidency will be facing. Solidarity, he said, is a nice word, but it is putting it into practice that is difficult. Relocation is not the only solution and is not an easy feat. To be realistic, we need to ensure that other measures are taken, such as building plans with Africa from an economic and social development aspects. He also said that in thirty years time, there will be five young Africans for every European. This is why such measures need to be taken today.
Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi referred to two important words in the German Presidency motto: Recovery and Together, because it is pointless for Member States to try to achieve success in this recovery on their own. The Multiannual Financial Framework is a case in point in which there is an urgent need to reach agreement as otherwise recovery will take much longer. This is also an issue of credibility for the European Union.
The discussion was followed by several representatives of diplomatic missions in Malta and abroad, civil society representatives and government officials and members of the public.