The head of the German Trade Union Confederation, Reiner Hoffmann, has urged Berlin to prepare now in order to make Germany’s presidency of the European Union a success, warning that the bloc is not in good shape.
He said Germany is taking on the rotating EU presidency from Croatia on July 1.
Every six months, a different member state takes over, organising high-level meetings and brokering between member states to reach consensus on touchy issues and push forward the bloc’s agenda.
“Germany must lay the groundwork now so that the German EU presidency is also a success for Europe,’’ Hoffmann, whose umbrella organisation represents around 6 million German employees, told dpa.
Mr Hoffmann warned that “Europe is not in a good state’’, pointing to the challenges of digitalisation, globalisation and population decline.
These must be tackled head-on, rather than allowing nationalist and far-right discourse to dominate the debate, he added.
He also urged Germany to push for a larger EU budget, in order to tackle priorities such as climate change.
Member states are engaged in fraught negotiations on the bloc’s next long-term spending plan, with Berlin among those seeking to curb expenditures.
Meanwhile, German Education Minister, Anja Karliczek told dpa that one aim of the German EU presidency was to better involve eastern member states, particularly in the areas of education, research, and innovation.
A bitter debate on migration policy, among other things, has created a rift between western and eastern EU members.
Hoffmann said it was important for the government coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats to stay together, arguing that an unstable coalition is bad for any EU presidency.