Europe is facing its «greatest challenge» in history, German Chancellor announced on Thursday at the German Parliament ahead of Germany's 6-month presidency of the Council of the European Union, which starts on July 1.
Merkel highlighted the «economic slump» that has been the result of the coronavirus crisis, and has already caused several EU countries to enter recessions, including Italy and France. The EU is also in a recession.
«The anti-democratic forces, the radicals, the authoritarian movement wait for these crises to politically abuse them,» Merkel told the German Parliament, taking an aim at AfD members sitting to her right. «It seems someone feels addressed,» the Chancellor commented.
She accused them of wanting to «undermine» the rules of law, human dignity and question civil rights. She pointed to the spreading of disinformation that currently threatens society.
«They want to take away from us what we need existentially at all times, the distinction between truth and lie, information and disinformation, from knowledge and lack of knowledge.»
The presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among member states every six months, with Germany preparing to take over from Croatia until the end of the year.