B.und Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have warned of the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus in Europe. “Germany and France have issued relatively strict rules because of the spread in Great Britain,” said Macron on Friday before a joint meal in the Chancellery in Berlin. “But there are some countries that decided to open faster because of their tourism industry,” he added, referring to Portugal, where curfews are again being imposed. Therefore one has to be vigilant. The topic will be addressed at the EU summit next Thursday and Friday.
Merkel also warned against being too careless in the EU. Macron had already raised the issue of the different stricter entry restrictions of the EU states at the last summit and she supported him. “We can’t pretend Corona is over,” she warned. Although there is already more coordination at European level than in 2020, it is not yet sufficient.
The background to this is that tourism countries in southern Europe in particular are opening up again to British holidaymakers, although the aggressive delta variant is spreading in the UK. In Lisbon, a curfew has been issued again due to the increasing number of infections. On the other hand, travelers from Great Britain have to be quarantined for two weeks in Germany.
Merkel also criticized the full stadiums during the European Football Championship in some European countries. It is nice that 14,000 fans are allowed to enter the stadium in Munich, she says. “But when I see fully occupied stadiums in other European countries, I am a little skeptical whether this is the right answer to the current situation,” she adds.
Meanwhile, reports of a possible final from London have caused a stir. According to a report by the British Times on Friday, the European Football Union should demand exceptions to the strict Corona rules for VIP guests and are in negotiations with the host. UEFA commented cautiously on the discussions about a possible postponement of the semi-finals and final to Budapest, but also with the sentence: “There is always an emergency plan, but we are confident that the final week will be held in London.”
EU faces “great challenges”
Merkel sees “great challenges” for the EU in dealing with Russia and Turkey. “On the one hand there are differences of opinion, on the other hand we depend on each other if we want to shape certain questions together. That is the question of migration, that is the question of the future of Libya, that is the question of the future of Syria, ”said Merkel on Friday in Berlin on the relationship with Turkey.
At the G7 summit, the relationship with Russia was also a big question. “Russia is a big challenge for us. But Russia is also the major continental neighbor of the European Union, ”said Merkel. “We have to realize that we are all exposed to hybrid attacks. But, on the other hand, we have a great interest if we want security and stability in the European Union, that we also keep in touch with Russia, no matter how difficult it is. “
Macron agreed: “I share everything that has been said about Turkey and Russia.” In relation to Turkey, positions of the EU countries Greece and Cyprus as well as their own strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, Libya and be observed in the Caucasus. A common line must be found vis-à-vis Russia. Merkel thanked US President Joe Biden for starting dialogue with the Russian government.
Dinner at the Chancellery was on the agenda for Merkel and Macron. In addition to European policy issues, the main focus will be on the Franco-German vote before the European Council, at which the heads of state and government of the EU will meet in Brussels on June 24th and 25th.