"Germany’s EU presidency will be shaped by the health and economic crises that will likely deepen social and political tensions and internal divisions. Still, Berlin must help make 2020 the year in which the EU gets set up to cope with the future. Support for economic recovery should decisively advance the big transformations of digitization and the Green Deal through truly European projects. Facing growing international competition, the EU needs to strengthen its position through internal cohesion and shared principles including rule of law and democracy, as well as deeper cooperation."
"In France, the Franco-German initiative of May 18, 2020 is seen as a very good foundation upon which to build a European response to the current economic crisis. The creation of a recovery fund, financed by joint loans, is in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s concept of European policy. Therefore, the French government expects the German presidency to fight for this idea and to convince the “frugal four.” France also hopes the presidency will build strong awareness of issues of European sovereignty."
"In southern Europe, expectations for Germany’s EU Council presidency mainly revolve around the European recovery fund. While Germany was criticized at the outset of the coronavirus crisis for its lack of solidarity, the tide has turned. Thanks to the Franco-German initiative, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, and Athens now feel that the German government is on their side. This nourishes the hope that Germany will use its presidency to push through the most important elements of this initiative and rapidly broker an agreement."
"From the Dutch perspective, the return to the four European fundamental freedoms is a priority. The Hague would like to see a pro-active German Presidency working towards a more resilient internal market. An exclusive corona crisis management would not be ambitious enough. Germany should press ahead with future issues such as the Green New Deal and the digitization strategy. A European Recovery Fund should follow the principle of conditionality and promote sustainable investments."
"The Polish government is approaching Germany’s EU presidency with cautious optimism. Its main goal for the budget negotiations is to reconcile the demands of the “friends of cohesion” with effective anti-crisis measures. It sees the Franco-German proposal of May 18 and the Commission’s budget plan for the next seven years as a good start for achieving it. As far as the rule of law is concerned, Warsaw does not want to be pilloried by Germany, but it knows that Berlin cannot sweep this issue completely under the rug."
"The four countries of the Visegrád Group expect Germany’s EU presidency to bridge deep divides on the Multiannual Financial Framework and take views from Central Europe into account. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary will argue for fair distribution criteria for the recovery fund that are flexible enough to meet the different needs of every member state. When it comes to specifics, however, their interests diverge. Today, the group is not as politically cohesive as it was during the migration crisis of 2015."
"The COVID-19 crisis has considerably constrained the work that Germany’s EU presidency could have done in Brussels and led to a loss of efficiency. The EU must quickly move beyond immediate crisis management to return to a position from which it can advance its political agenda on key issues ranging from climate protection to digitization. This includes finding ways for politics and diplomacy to again take place through personal contact and direct exchange."
"Germany’s EU presidency will reinforce US President Donald Trump’s image of the enemy. Even before he took office, Trump claimed in the media that the EU was only created to harm America and Germany was only abusing the EU to assert its interests. Since then, the US president has been trying to undermine Europe’s already fragile unity with a “divide and conquer” strategy in order to better control its individual parts. This will be even more true as the US approaches elections this November. To distract from domestic socioeconomic problems, Trump could position Europe in his crosshairs as a scapegoat alongside China."
"Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, China looked to Germany to “deliver Europe for China.” The so-called bilateral-multilateral format of the Leipzig Summit was a major part of that plan. With the pandemic highlighting major risks to ever closer cooperation, however, this plan has become harder for China to realize. Still, Germany needs to fully acknowledge what China is doing and, in response, seriously push for Europe to build up its democratic security."