Germany’s Merkel: Coronavirus EU’s biggest test since foundation
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the coronavirus pandemic is the “biggest test” that the European Union has faced since its foundation, adding that it is important that the bloc “emerges strong” from the economic crisis caused by the disease.
"In my view... the European Union stands before the biggest test since its founding," Merkel told reporters during a news conference on Monday.
"Everyone is just as affected as the other, and therefore, it is in everyone's interest, and it is in Germany's interest for Europe to emerge strong from this test."
The comments came ahead of a key eurozone finance ministers' conference aimed at drawing up an economic rescue plan for the bloc.
Merkel also stressed that Germany is "ready to contribute" to boosting the bloc. She also reiterated that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) bailout fund should be activated "with no senseless conditions" in order to help countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus.
The German chancellor further said that Europe needed to develop "self-sufficiency" in manufacturing of crucial medical gear such as masks.
"Regardless of the fact that this market is presently installed in Asia... we need a certain self-sufficiency, or at least a pillar of our own manufacturing" in Germany or elsewhere in the European Union, she said.
The novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, initially emerged in China late last year and is now spreading across the globe.
The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has now reached 70,567, and 1,288,319 people are diagnosed with the viral infection around the globe.
Analysts say the world economy is headed for a sharp downturn, where several countries could plunge into recession this year.