After a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said that Germany would spearhead efforts to ensure an effective post-pandemic EU recovery.

Following talks with Macron at the German government guesthouse in Meseberg, north of Berlin, Merkel said “We are going to work together and make Europe fit for tackling this crisis”.

“I’m very happy that we agree on the challenges that we want to overcome together,” added Merkel, who noted that “expectations are high” — referring to Germany’s EU presidency starting from July 1 — but Berlin and Paris are ready to rise to the task, in a bid to invest more into the future to meet those challenges after the pandemic.

“It is important to me that we come out of the debate with a strong instrument at the end,” the German Chancellor further said.

Macron stressed that the fund needs to be effective and defended the price tag of the current proposal.

Earlier this month, Macron said that he would support Merkel if she wanted to be the head of the European Union’s executive body.

The French leader also said the EU “needs someone strong” at the helm of the European Commission but that he wouldn’t try to influence Merkel, citing their friendship.

France and Germany are backing a European Commission proposal for a recovery fund including 500 billion euros in budgetary transfers and 250 billion euros in loans.

Macron warned the four countries, nicknamed “frugal four,” that they were acting against their own best interests. They “gain a lot — more than others — from taking part in a common space of prosperity and exchange,” he argued.

“And so it is not in their interest to see some members, especially important markets in the European economy, affected,” said Macron.

He said the pandemic is not yet at its peak, and that steps needed to be taken at the EU level to deal with challenges on the horizon.

Last month, Merkel and Macron proposed the creation of a 500 billion euro ($543 billion) European Union (EU) recovery fund for the financial recuperation of the bloc in the wake of the economic damage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EU leaders are due to meet up in person next month to try to reach an agreement on the recovery package.

(With inputs from agency)