In Brief: Germany takes over EU Council presidency with plans to prioritize the pandemic and proposed recovery fund

The presidency begins during a crucial time for Europe as it grapples with the staggering economic and health crisis brought on by the pandemic.

Photo: European Union. H.E. Susanne Szech-Koundours, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the EU meets Goran Stefanic, Deputy Permanent Representative of Croatia to the EU.

By Sylvia Cunningham and William Glucroft

Today Germany starts its stint at the helm of the Council of the European Union, taking over the presidency during what Chancellor Angela Merkel calls the greatest challenge the bloc has ever faced.

For the next six months, the country will help define the EU’s legislative agenda, especially in regards to the pandemic.

Bloomberg columnist Andreas Kluth said, “It’s supposed to be an honest broker, so success for the president is not if you can get your own interests through but if you can hold the 27 together.”

Listen back to last week’s Studio Berlin as we discuss what we might expect from Germany’s Presidency during this unprecedented health and economic crisis.


Berlin’s mayor wants to make COVID-19 testing available free of charge to anyone in the city.

The announcement comes on the heels of Bavaria making the same decision. In Bavaria’s so-called “test offensive”, anyone can get a test, regardless of symptoms or risk level.

Mayor Michael Müller told German broadcaster n-TV on Monday that large-scale testing has started first in schools and day care centers but he wants to expand beyond that in the coming months.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has previously criticized this blanket approach, writing on Twitter that testing needs to be “targeted.”


Starting today, cybercrime investigators in North Rhine-Westphalia are pursuing more than 30,000 leads into a German network of pedophiles.

The state’s justice minister, Peter Biesenbach, told public broadcaster ZDF six specialists will use IP addresses to identify suspects.

Officials accuse them of sharing pornographic images of children and advising each other on how to carry out acts of child abuse.

Meanwhile police yesterday carried out raids in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse, arresting at least three suspected child abusers.

This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.

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