Angela Merkel expressed satisfaction that the Commission had largely adopted the framework of a Franco-German proposal for €500 billion in recovery grants | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images
Merkel calls for swift deal on EU budget and recovery package
German chancellor urges EU solidarity in response to coronavirus crisis.
Updated 7/8/20, 5:29 PM CET
The masked crusader pushing for quick deal on the EU’s €1.8 trillion budget-and-recovery plan was none other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Making her first political trip since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Merkel arrived in the hemicycle of the European Parliament on Wednesday wearing a white face mask, which she then removed to deliver her speech marking the start of Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Her speech, predictably, was a pro-European rhapsody on the need for unity and solidarity in response to the pandemic and the accompanying economic shock, and stern warnings against the dangers of nationalist populism.
But her visit to Brussels to speak to the Parliament was also a symbolic gesture, highlighting the role of MEPs who often feel sidelined by high-stakes negotiations among heads of state and government, and left out of the bureaucratic churning in the European Commission.
“For me, this is now the first trip abroad after the outbreak of the pandemic, and it leads me deliberately and with complete conviction to you, to the heart of European democracy,”