June 23, 2020 / 11:47 AM / 12 days ago

EU to focus on rebuilding after pandemic in next 18 months: Germany

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with her counterparts in Portugal and Slovenia that the EU should focus on rebuilding the bloc economically and socially after the coronavirus crisis in the next 18 months when they each hold the rotating presidency.

“The trio’s joint programme focuses on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and social rebuilding of Europe. The aim is to strengthen the EU’s resilience to pandemic crises in the long term,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement after the three held a video conference.

Germany assumes the rotating presidency in July, followed by Portugal in January 2021 and Slovenia in July next year, and so they can help set some of the priorities for the bloc.

The leaders agreed that to tackle the social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe must quickly return to a path of growth, Seibert said.

He added that the three heads of government agreed measures to combat climate change and digitalisation must be at the forefront of recovery efforts.

Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Michelle Martin and Paul Carrel

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