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Merkel and Macron warned plans to brace for major struggle to save EU after coronavirus


Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron last month joined forces once again to put forward a proposed €500 billion recovery fund to help the European Union recover from the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme sparked the dissent of thriftier member states who have lamented the suggestion they would have to contribute extra money to save worst-affected member states from the economic brink. But while in the past Berlin and Paris have been known to deliver through their alliance, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron have been warned the rescue fund could prove to be a harder project to sell.

German Greens MEP Reinhard Bütikofer told Euronews: “Without taking the other most important capital on board, nothing much is going to be delivered.

“I would still not believe that the French and the Germans on their own could provide enough leadership for the EU but without Paris and Berlin, nothing ever materialises.”

Angela Merkel is expected to be at the centre of negotiations on the recovery fund now Germany has taken over the presidency of the European Council for the next six months.

Chancellor Merkel met with President Macron on Monday to discuss joint plans to win over the support of the so-called Frugal Four, a group of economically conservative member states opposed to their proposal.

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Mr Macron insisted the fund must be agreed in July as he warned Europe is facing its “moment of truth” against widespread recession.

The proposal would see the EU27 pool their debt together but Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark have voiced their opposition to supporting more indebted southern states like Italy and Spain.

But with Mrs Merkel at the helm of the Council at the height of the crisis some experts believe a deal could ultimately be brokered.

Constanze Stelzenmüller of the Brookings Institute said the experience the Chancellor matured in over 15 years in power as well as her deep-rooted knowledge of European affairs could help her win over the opposition.

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Mrs Merkel said: “We are aware of the fact that there are high expectations of Germany’s presidency

“We want to live up to these expectations by striving for all of us to come out of the crisis unharmed and for Europe to be prepared for the future.

“Only together can we succeed in living our European values and defending them against others: democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

According to the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, many among the EU27 agree that the “severity of this crisis justifies an ambitious common response”, and that an agreement is needed soon.

EU Council President Charles Michel insisted last week that they will try to “accelerate the negotiations to have an efficient meeting in July”.


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