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08 Apr 2020, 12:53
Julian Wettengel

Coronavirus to have “massive impact” on German EU Council presidency – ambassador

Spiegel Online / energate messenger

Germany's ambassador to the EU, Michael Clauß, has warned that the German EU Council presidency cannot take place as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports Spiegel Online. In a letter to the government in Berlin, Clauß said there would be “massive impacts” on organisational and administrative plans, as well as on the issues the EU presidency has to deal with. "From now on, the focus will be on the European institutions' ability to act, crisis management, exit and recovery -- possibly the maintenance of EU integration per se,” he wrote. Other issues that the government had planned to focus on thus far, such as climate action, would "inevitably be superimposed or completely pushed into the background."

According to earlier planning documents seen by energate messenger, the German government had planned to push the EU climate law and lead the debate about increasing the 2030 climate target. Spiegel quotes Clauß as saying that the expected capacity bottlenecks in the EU legislative process must not be underestimated. “They will make a radical prioritisation and reduction of the issues we can deal with inevitable, at least for the beginning of our presidency.” Video conferences have several downsides, he wrote. "No formal quorum, no discussions on the sidelines, no confidentiality of negotiations, no interpretation service, difficulties with text work."

Germany holds the rotating EU Council presidency in the second half of 2020 and had planned to put a focus on climate action. In preparation for the now-postponed UN climate conference in Glasgow, the EU was scheduled to face tough talks on how to increase the bloc-wide 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target. Germany also plans to host an EU-China summit in September, which many see as an opportunity for the two regions to announce more ambitious policies.

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