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Germany, France praise European solidarity against COVID

April 26, 2021

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a new "European idea" while visiting France's Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The two presidents hailed the EU's coronavirus recovery fund.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron greet each other by touching lower arms in Paris
Macron received Steinmeier in the Elysée Palace in ParisImage: Sadak Souici/dpa/Le Pictorium Agency/ZUMA/picture alliance

Financial solidarity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic is "just and essential" said Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Monday.

Their meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris came two days after Steinmeier signed off on a European recovery fund of €750 billion ($906 billion). 

Macron praised Germany's move towards the "historic" multi-billion recovery package.

The two also commended European unity in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"Europe needs nothing more urgently than a sign of a new start," Steinmeier said. 

'The Future of Europe' 

Macron and Steinmeier also expressed their hopes for a citizen-led European conference due in May. 

"We need not only a well-stocked joint account, but we need a European idea, a uniting European idea," Steinmeier said, adding that such initiative would "not go without the citizens of Europe."

Dubbed the "Conference on the Future of Europe," the European Commission aims to discuss possible reforms with citizens.

What is the EU recovery fund? 

Last year, the EU agreed that the bloc would borrow hundreds of billions to help it bounce back from the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

EU member states must present to the bloc their own proposals on how they plan to use the funds. On Monday, Macron and Steinmeier said that finance ministers of France and Germany would soon announce their European recovery proposals.

The bloc can then approve the funds based on an assessment by the EU Commission. 

EU governments can request up to 13% advance on funds for their recovery plans. 

fb/dj (AFP, dpa, EFE)