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Angela Merkel will be leading the Council of the European Union at a time of increasing uncertainty and crisis for the bloc amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the conclusion of Brexit talks. Germany will take over overseeing fraught discussions on the next seven-year common budget as well as the debate on the COVID-19 rescue fund. Reiner Hoffmann, the head of the German Trade Union Confederation, insisted Chancellor Merkel must “take up responsibility” or witness the future of the European Union come under further threat.
Speaking to France 24, Mr Hoffmann said: “It’s absolutely necessary that the German Government has to take up its responsibility as it as agreed in the coalition agreement on the future of Europe.
“Germany has to spend more towards the European Union, Germany has the responsibility that we get our own fiscal capacity.”
Mr Hoffmann added: “The multiannual financial framework will be handled under the German presidency, this has to become a success.
“If this is a failure, I think Europe will be at risk and this is not good for German citizens, and it’s not good for European citizens.”
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Germany is already among those member states that will be required to pay more into the common pot because of the UK’s withdrawal.
The latest proposals from the European Commission for the next budget suggest Berlin would see its contribution increased by 42 percent, according to German newspaper Die Welt.
Berlin currently pays €31billion (£27.8billion) a year into Brussels’ pockets, but the latest MFF proposals would see contribution rising to €44billion (£39.5billion).
Mrs Merkel will also be leading the Council in talks about the rescue fund Germany and France jointly proposed in May in a bid to help the country worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak recover.
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Paris and Berlin came together to put forward a €500 billion fund to provide EU regions and sectors grants to restart their businesses after long periods of lockdown.
Chancellor Merkel suggested the money would be paid back over a long period and announced Berlin would pay up to 27 percent of the funds.
DW chief political editor Michaela Küfner said last month: “She will have to pull Europe back from the kind of nation-state thinking that kicked in as the initial reflex when the corona crisis struck.
“Being Europe’s longest-serving leader who heads its largest economy could help.
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“Merkel has already started pledging German money, for the first accepting joint EU debt as part of a joint €500 billion recovery plan with French President Emmanuel Macron. She may drop more red lines.
“Whether Angela Merkel can push Europe to take a leap of faith into the future may prove decisive for the stability of the EU. It will certainly be decisive for her entry into the history books.”
Germany will kick off the next round of presidency rotation of the European Council, setting the tone for the bloc’s agenda for the final part of 2020 as well as 2021 alongside Portugal and Slovenia.
The presidency of the council is expected to offer Chancellor Merkel the opportunity to take the lead on the European scene for the final time as she confirmed in 2017 she will not be running for re-election in 2021.
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