Merkel in Brussels: take "Community" literally

Chancellor Angela Merkel presented the priorities of the German presidency to the European Parliament on Wednesday. She first of all stressed the importance of human and civil rights and urged the member states to be willing to make compromises in the negotiations on the recovery fund. Commentators wonder whether words will be followed by deeds - and whether this is in the interest of their own countries.

Open/close all quotes (DE) /

Orbán has been read the riot act

The standing ovation Merkel received for her passionate plea for a Europe governed by the rule of law was well deserved, affirms:

“Merkel's red card for Victor Orbán and his friends in Poland and the Czech Republic could not have been harsher. Without mentioning the Hungarian prime minister - whom the parliament in Budapest granted the special right to govern by decree during the coronavirus pandemic - by name, the German Chancellor read Orbán the riot act. Those who thought that Merkel would avoid the topic of the rule of law so as not to jeopardise the Eastern European countries' approval for the coronavirus recovery fund were very much mistaken.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Don't just make demands

Merkel must not compromise when it comes to the rule of law, the Süddeutsche Zeitung warns:

“Next week the 27 heads of state and government will negotiate the coronavirus aid package and the EU budget at a summit in Brussels. The EU Commission is proposing that in future payments be made dependent on the rule of law functioning in recipient countries. This would put salutary pressure on Warsaw and Budapest. But there is a great danger that this clause will fail due to resistance from Eastern European governments. Merkel must fight for this rule of law requirement - so that it is not just a matter of noble words.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Tricky plans

La Stampa reflects less on the speech itself as the Chancellor's proposal on how to reach an agreement on the coronavirus recovery fund:

“The card that Angela Merkel has decided to play to persuade thrifty countries to accept the recovery fund can be found under the chapter on governance. It's simple: Berlin wants to take away the Commission's power to approve the various national reconstruction plans and transfer it to the EU Council, i.e. the governments. These would decide - by a qualified majority - whether individual countries' reforms and investments are in line with EU priorities. This is a solution that suits the northern countries, but certainly doesn't go in the direction the Italian government wants.”

Postimees (EE) /

A strong presidency

Europe is fortunate that Germany is taking over the presidency, Postimees stresses:

“This gives hope that all member states will get their heads above water once again. Germany's priority is to ensure that the economic and social systems recover from the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. In fact, Berlin started shouldering these tasks even before the start of the presidency, allowing agreement on a recovery package to be reached despite initial differences of opinion. ... One of the reforms that is most likely to provoke controversy is a reform of the asylum systems. The idea is to change direction so as to avoid a migration crisis like the one in 2015. ... Overall Germany's plans will be in Estonia's interest. But that doesn't mean that every point will automatically be rubber stamped.”