On 28 April 2020, Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier exchanged views with the Italian Minister of Economic Development, Mr Stefano Patuanelli, and the Spanish Minister of Industry and Trade, Ms María Reyes Maroto, on the economic impact and on measures in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and on Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. Italy and Spain are important partners in the EU, whose value chains are closely interlinked with those in Germany. Both countries are particularly badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Federal Minister Altmaier is therefore relying on close coordination to tackle the pandemic and its economic impact.

Federal Minister Altmaier said: “It is important for us in the EU to act jointly and in a spirit of solidarity so that our economies can emerge stronger from the crisis. For this purpose, we need to closely coordinate the necessary steps and measures with our European partners. As we all depend on functioning supply chains, I am investing efforts for a strong EU internal market. We want to further develop our industry-policy cooperation with Italy and Spain in a targeted manner.”

Tackling the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic will also play a central role during Germany’s EU Council Presidency. The aim is to give the EU fresh strength as a business location by further improving its competitiveness and innovative capacity and expanding European trade relations with third countries. We want to keep markets open, create a level playing field, and strengthen Europe’s digital and technological autonomy. We are striving to work closely with the EU Member States, also and in particular with regard to the expansion of value chains for medical personal protection equipment (PPE), test kits and active ingredients in Europe.

According to provisional figures, in 2019 Italy ranked fifth among Germany’s trading partners with a trade volume totalling €125.20 billion (imports: €57.09 billion, exports: €68.10 billion). Germany is Italy's most important trading partner by far.

In 2019, Spain ranked twelfth among Germany’s trading partners with a trade volume totalling €77.5 billion (imports: €33.22 billion, exports: €44.3 billion). In the same year, Germany was Spain’s second most important trading partner, behind France.