Germany takes EU hot seat with big challenges, expectations

BERLIN (AP) — Germany, the European Union’s biggest economic power, is taking the chair of the 27-nation bloc amid massive challenges and huge expectations as the continent grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Berlin’s six months in the hot seat will likely be Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last big turn on the international stage. The German presidency, which starts Wednesday, is bookended by landmark moments for the EU. At the beginning, the bloc will seek agreement on a huge package to pull its stricken economy out of the coronavirus crisis, and on its future budget. At the end, former member Britain’s definitive departure from the EU’s single market is expected — with or without an agreement.