France and Germany bear a “special responsibility” to make the European Union a stronger world power as Paris assumes the bloc’s rotating presidency, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told AFP on Friday.
Germany’s coalition government has said it wants to increase the bloc’s “strategic sovereignty” as rivalries between world powers such as the United States, China and Russia adversely affect the EU.
French President Emmanuel Macron has long envisioned a stronger European Union, saying he aimed to make it “powerful in the world” during France’s six-month presidency of the European Council beginning on January 1.
Germany will also host the next G7 summit in June as president of the group of wealthy democracies, giving the EU a chance to establish global diplomatic leadership in 2022.
The two countries, “as the closest of friends at the heart of Europe, bear a special responsibility for a united European Union, capable of acting and looking towards the future,” said Baerbock.
France’s presidency is “an important opportunity we want to seize together to strengthen Europe and make it fit to rise up to tomorrow’s challenges”, she added.
“Our French friends can count on our support from the first day to the last to prepare the ground for a sustainable economic recovery, in the fight against the climate crisis, in digitalisation and for a more sovereign Europe.”
France’s priorities for its European Council presidency include a bloc-wide minimum wage, more regulation on digital giants and a carbon border tax.