German EU presidency to focus on coronavirus fight, environment

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a media statement after a video conference of EU leaders on the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2020. Michel Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS

Germany will focus its six-month presidency of the European Union from July 1 on the fight against the new coronavirus and its social and economic impact as well as environmental issues, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday.

“It will be clearly dominated by the issue of combating the pandemic and its consequences,” Merkel said of the presidency in her weekly video podcast, adding that as long as there was no vaccine, the virus would dominate life in Europe.

Merkel said Germany would promote the idea of an efficient European health care system for all member states, as well as a financial transaction tax, minimum tax rates and a joint carbon emissions trading system for ships and planes.

The German cabinet will hold a special session on Wednesday to discuss the agenda for the German presidency of the EU, along with Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, the secretary-general of the European Council.

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