On 1 July 2020, the Federal Republic of Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six months. The agenda is now largely dominated by the Covid-19 crisis which broke out at the beginning of the year. The conclusion of the Multiannual Financial Framework and the additional multi-billion-euro recovery programme for the EU take priority. Moreover, there is a large number of files that were in the pipeline before the crisis hit, such as setting strategic directions for the European Green Deal and taking further steps to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, both of which are important for the EU’s long-term stabilisation. The Covid-19 crisis has also further aggravated problems with the rule of law and democracy in some EU Member States. Progress on the planned reform of the Common European Asylum System has come to a standstill during the crisis, while the situation for refugees is worsening. Here too, solutions at the EU level are urgently needed. In the area of foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations pose a pressing challenge, the EU must redefine its relationship with China and address its partnership with Africa. Last but not least, an agreement for future relations with the United Kingdom must be found by the end of the year.
Against this background, the expectations on Germany and its European policy are high. The EU-office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is working on these issues and will accompany the German Council Presidency with public discussions, specialist workshops, publications and analysis. By providing constructive and critical analysis of these debates and negotiations, offering progressive solutions and strengthening a transparent and open dialogue, the FES aims to ensure that the adopted measures contribute to a more socially balanced and sustainable Europe that successfully represents these values both domestically and in its external relations.