As the rotating presidency of the EU council passes to Germany on 1 July, the country’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, sat down for an interview with the Guardian and five other European newspapers – Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, France’s Le Monde, Spain’s La Vanguardia, Italy’s La Stampa and Poland’s Polityka – to talk about Europe’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, her stance on the Brexit negotiations, and global challenges posed by the US, Russia and China.
Germany’s European council presidency is taking place during an unprecedented crisis. There is a lot of pressure; Germany is expected to sort things out. How nervous are you?
My first council presidency as chancellor was in 2007. The European constitutional treaty had just been rejected in France and the Netherlands, and we had set ourselves the task of shaping a new treaty. We succeeded in that. Then came the international financial crisis, turbulence for the euro and the refugee issue – so difficult times are nothing new. And time and again it has been shown that Europe is not yet sufficiently resistant to crises. In the euro crisis, we lacked the tools for an appropriate response. The movements of refugees in 2015 showed up the deficiencies of the EU asylum system.