All over Europe, eyes have turned towards Germany, which on July 1 assumed the rotating EU Council Presidency. Berlin is always under close scrutiny by other member states, given Germany's economic and political weight. But this time, the pandemic and its consequences have sharply lifted expectations. Like a tsunami wave, the coronavirus has crashed over the German Presidential programme. Within a few weeks, the agenda, which had been painstakingly prepared by ministries for two years, had to be circulated, re-prioritised and evaluated. The German Council Presidency became a Corona Presidency with the ultimate goal of combating the pandemic’s consequences, in particular facilitating economic reconstruction.
The question of the future of Europe, its role in the world in view of current transatlantic relations and its relationship with the other major powers, China and Russia, has become even more relevant. Furthermore, the delicate brexit negotiations, the pressing need for a compromise on asylum policy -- the intolerable situation of the refugees on the Greek island remains unchanged -- and dangers to the rule of law continue to pose immense challenges. Against this background, the fight against climate change, which was at the top of the Commission's agenda before the pandemic in the form of the "European Green Deal", is in danger of losing momentum. The force of the pandemic also considerably weakened Germany's ambitions in terms of equality between men and women; a subject which only earns a passing mention, even though it was mothers, especially single mothers, who bore the brunt of school and day-care closures throughout Europe.
The Europe dossier of KULTURAUSTAUSCH takes a close look at the most important priorities of the German Presidency and invites you to tour the 27 member states. Through numerous contributions by authors and experts from across the continent, the different attitudes, lines of conflict, and common challenges are highlighted in a number of spheres. European culture, which continues to suffer greatly from the impact of Covid-19, will not be forgotten: The dossier devotes an entire section to this. All in all, a complex yet multifaceted panorama of European perspectives emerges.