German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the European Union (EU) was facing “its greatest test” since its foundation, with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Merkel also felt that “the answer” to this crisis could only be “more Europe, a stronger Europe and a well-functioning Europe,” during a press conference in Berlin.
“We have a big health challenge that is impacting all member states however differently,” she stressed, recalling that to varying degrees, all countries were affected by the pandemic, with Italy and Spain having the highest number of deaths in the EU.
“Everyone has been hit equally by this and it must be in the interest of everyone and of Germany that Europe emerges stronger from this test,” she added.
Speaking as Austria became the first EU country to lay out a plan to return to normal life, Merkel said that while Germany had “moved forward,” it was still too early to issue a timeframe for relaxing measures at this time.
Germany has put strict social-distancing rules in place more than two weeks ago and the government has recently extended those until April 19.
Merkel’s comments come on the eve of an important meeting of EU Finance Ministers on the economic and financial instruments to be used to support economies hard hit by the pandemic which is bringing almost the whole continent to a standstill.