By Laura Zornoza
Brussels, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called for solidarity for the European Union to overcome the effects of the coronavirus crisis, saying it was not only a humanitarian gesture but a sustainable investment.
Merkel addressed the European Parliament in Brussels as her country took on the rotational presidency of the Council of the EU. It was her first trip abroad since sweeping Covid-19 travel restrictions were lifted in the EU.
“We are all aware that my visit today comes at a time when the EU is facing its greatest challenge ever. The global pandemic has hit people hard in Europe,” she said.
The chancellor recalled the 100,000 lives lost during the pandemic in Europe, as well as those who were unable to bid farewell to loved ones due to tough coronavirus restrictions.
“We must bear that in mind when we commit to economic recovery. We need to mourn our dead and recognize the pain of farewells that were not possible.”
She continued: “Europe will only emerge from the crisis stronger than ever if we are willing to overcome our differences and identify shared solutions.
“European solidarity is not just a humanitarian gesture, it is a sustainable investment.”
Her trip to Brussels comes just 10 days before the next summit of EU leaders on 17-18 July — the first to be held in person since February. This meeting will serve to pass the EU’s seven-year budget and the post-coronavirus economic recovery fund.
The European Commission has proposed a budget of 1.1 trillion euros and a recovery plan of 750 billion euros, 500 billion of which would be paid out in grants with the remaining 250 billion available as loans.