The European Union faces testing times and momentous challenges. Taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from July 1 therefore marked the beginning of a demanding task for Germany. Despite the enormity of these challenges, we remain ambitious and aim to work closely with our EU partners in a spirit of unity and solidarity.
Germany wants to be both a driving force and a facilitator for building bridges and finding solutions that ultimately benefit everyone in Europe, as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has stressed. For the EU to succeed we need to pull together: "Together for Europe's recovery", as our presidency motto puts it.
First and foremost we must combine our efforts to overcome the effects of Covid-19 on our countries, societies and businesses, and continue to co-ordinate our immediate crisis response in order to contain the virus within the EU. We need to continue working together on the implementation of a co-ordinated EU exit strategy too, lifting the remaining restrictions and fostering the European single market.
In order to lead Europe sustainably out of this crisis, it is important to agree quickly on a recovery fund and the multi-annual financial framework. We need to invest in the European economy, tap into our full innovation potential and strengthen social cohesion.
Economic and social recovery, reducing inequality in Europe and improving social protection are of the utmost importance to the German presidency. We want to pursue a sustainable and inclusive growth strategy aimed both at restoring our economies and protecting jobs as well as at fostering social cohesion and a sustainable future for the people of Europe.
Close co-operation and co-ordination at the European level are paramount. German-Irish co-operation has been a very good example during the crisis as shown by the joint repatriation flights for stranded citizens of both our nations and other EU citizens, the processing of Irish Covid-19 tests in German laboratories, German firms supplying vital medical equipment to Ireland, and collaboration between German and Irish engineers.
The EU needs to derive the right lessons from this crisis together. We need to strengthen the union's strategic sovereignty. We need to act jointly and in a forward-looking way. Germany will therefore advocate strengthening European crisis management, for instance.
Not only do we have the opportunity but we also have a duty to pursue sustainable recovery and to invest in tackling climate change and implementing digital transformation - in other words 'Green Recovery'. The European Green Deal proposed by the European Commission is, no doubt, an ambitious proposal. We will support it as a means of helping to overcome the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 and shaping a sustainable and competitive European economy.
The pandemic has also shown we need greater European digital and technological sovereignty. We will promote the creation of efficient and reliable European data infrastructure and support resilient, values-based digital transformation. As home to the EU headquarters of the most important multinational tech companies, Ireland can play a vital part in this.
The next six months will also be dominated by the negotiations to define the future relations between the EU and the United Kingdom. The urgency is growing. The EU will continue to work on achieving an agreement with the UK by the end of this year. The aim remains to achieve an ambitious and comprehensive partnership between the EU and the UK.
Naturally, our future partnership with the UK needs to have a fair balance between rights and obligations. We will actively strive to achieve a successful outcome. But we must be prepared for any eventuality including a no-deal scenario.
In some areas, the withdrawal agreement has already achieved much - these achievements have to be respected by both sides, especially regarding the protocol on Northern Ireland. Germany and Ireland stand together in solidarity in these negotiations and we will make every effort during the coming months to support the progress of the talks and ensure EU unity.
Furthermore top priorities of our presidency are the challenges arising in the context of displacement and migration, the rule of law, and climate change. We need to be better placed to tackle these challenges together. A fresh start in reforming the Common European Asylum System is essential as migration remains an urgent topic that concerns all 27 member states.
Germany advocates ambitious reforms in this area with a view to creating a fair, functioning, effective and resilient system. We also want to strengthen the political dialogue on the rule of law between the member states through extensive consultations as the protection of our shared values is of the utmost importance to us.
The future of the EU will be shaped by how we have dealt with and will continue to deal with the current crisis and the challenges ahead of us. Our goal is for the EU to emerge stronger, more sovereign and more united from this crisis.
Former chancellor Helmut Schmidt once said: "It is during times of crisis that we prove our character." The EU has shown this on numerous occasions, not least most recently during the pandemic. Albeit slowly at first - not surprisingly, as we were all overwhelmed by this completely new and massive challenge - the EU then demonstrated tangible solidarity on a scale that no other region of the world has seen. I firmly believe we need to and will build on that experience for the benefit of everyone.
Deike Potzel is German ambassador to Ireland