Berlin (AP) - The federal states have promised Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) broad support across the party borders in the German EU Council Presidency - especially in the fight against the consequences of the corona pandemic.

«It is important to us to help shape Europe. We also want to make Europe strong again, »together with the federal government,» the incumbent President of the Federal Council, the Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD), assured on Friday in the last session of the Chamber of States before the summer break.

Merkel received express support from other heads of government from the SPD and the Union, as well as from Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). Woidke said that Merkel was a rare but very welcome guest on the Federal Council. Most recently, she was in the regional chamber on February 16, 2007, to present the then EU Council Presidency. Europe is also a national issue, said Woidke. With the Federal Council, Merkel and the Federal Government had “a strong partner and an independent actor at their side”.

The Chancellor urged the federal states to support the goals of the federal government in the German EU Council Presidency. The presidency is a very responsible task, which the federal government is doing its utmost. "I would also like to ask you, as representatives of the federal states, for your support and commitment to this task." Germany took over the EU Council Presidency on July 1 for six months.

Merkel once again slowed expectations of a quick solution in the negotiations on the medium-term budget and, in connection with this, on the planned 750 billion euro corona reconstruction program of the EU. The aim is to reach an agreement as quickly as possible, "perhaps even before the summer break". However, the Chancellor also emphasized: "The road is rocky and a lot of good will and willingness to compromise will be required from all sides to reach the goal." In view of the economic development, however, time is pressing «and every day counts».

Since she presented the priorities of the then German Council Presidency in the state chamber in 2007, Europe has experienced many crises and challenges, Merkel recalled. For example, she mentioned the financial and sovereign debt crisis from 2008 and the large refugee movements in 2015. Europe could have faced these challenges because the member states, the countries and regions, but above all the citizens, had held together at decisive moments. «It pays to stand united for the European idea. It is worth keeping our Europe together. »

Like Europe, federalism is characterized by the fact that each country brings its regional experience and its sometimes different concerns into the debate for the whole country, said Merkel. This could be “very exhausting and arduous”, both between the federal government and the states as well as among the states. "Nevertheless, I am deeply convinced that it is precisely this regional diversity in federal unity that is a decisive, if not the decisive, reason why our country is consistently facing the greatest challenges."

Hesse's head of government, Volker Bouffier (CDU), made it clear that in Europe it was no longer just the federal government alone that had political responsibility, but the states themselves too. The idea of ​​subsidiarity, the responsibility of the regions, must therefore be strengthened. This is essential for acceptance by the EU. NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) again criticized the border closures in the EU at the beginning of the Corona crisis. Cross-border cooperation would be the task should a second or third wave of the pandemic come.

Lower Saxony's SPD head of government Stephan Weil also assured the chancellor of support for the presidency. The challenges posed by the corona crisis are possibly the greatest since the beginning of the European Community. But they also offer the greatest opportunities. It is not just about the recovery of the German economy, but of Europe. "There can be no healthy German economy in a sick Europe."

Backing also came from the head of government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig (SPD), or her Baden-Württemberg counterpart Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). Kretschmann expressly praised Merkel for the Franco-German push for an EU aid package, which she had presented together with French President Emmanuel Macron. He appealed to the Chancellor: "Make the German Presidency a climate presidency too."

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