Inaugural visit of the new Chancellor: Brussels’ high expectations of Olaf Scholz

Status: 10.12.2021 3:08 a.m.

The new Chancellor Scholz is coming to Brussels today for his inaugural visit to the EU and NATO. Expectations are high there. Before that, Scholz meets the French President Macron.

By Helga Schmidt, ARD-Studio Brussels

The head of the commission’s expectations are high. Ursula von der Leyen can only achieve her goals if support comes from Germany. For this she needs the help of Olaf Scholz, he represents the largest member state of the EU.

Helga Schmidt
ARD studio Brussels

When it comes to the Commission’s most important goal, the fight against the climate crisis, the prospects are even better than in the years of the Merkel government. In Brussels there were regular calls from Berlin, asking not to make the environmental regulations too strict, often with the advice not to neglect the interests of German industry.

Harmony when it comes to climate

The fact that the traffic light coalition wants to set different accents is good news for Ursula von der Leyen, because this creates an important prerequisite for achieving the ambitious climate targets. “We have the opportunity to make history,” said von der Leyen at the climate conference in Glasgow, saying that with the Green Deal, Europe could become the first climate-neutral continent.

The harmony on the subject of the climate should create a good atmosphere for discussion between the Chancellor and the Commission President. But there are also issues that the two of them need to discuss – first and foremost, the EU’s finances.

Macron advocates new financial rules

France wants to relax the strict debt rules – and how serious President Emmanuel Macron is with it, he made it clear again yesterday. Europe must say goodbye to old taboos and old fetishes.

According to the French President, the question is no longer whether countries will stick to the three percent new debt, this question is completely out of date. New rules would have to be found in order to remain serious. New rules, that means: more opportunities for higher national debt.

Ukraine crisis is also discussed

Macron has set the bar high, but so far as Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has not shown that he wants to jump over the bar. After all, he calls the Stability and Growth Pact “flexible enough” – that leaves room for maneuver. Macron will sound it out, even before Ursula von der Leyen he has the opportunity to do so, because Scholz first goes to Paris to the Elysée Palace and only then to Brussels.

All talks will also deal with the Ukraine crisis and the question of how the dialogue with Russian President Putin can be restarted. The topic should also determine the inaugural visit to NATO.

NATO continues to demand greater financial commitment

There, as in the Commission, there are great expectations of Germany. “NATO needs a strong Germany,” said the Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, in advance. The German contribution to NATO is crucial to maintaining peace in Europe.

That was yesterday, after the conversation with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. And whenever the NATO Secretary General speaks of the German contribution, it is also an indication that, from his point of view, the financial contribution is not yet sufficient. NATO’s target is two percent of gross domestic product, and Germany is less. So much to talk about for Olaf Scholz, including on his inaugural visit to the NATO headquarters.

Olaf Scholz comes to Brussels – Great expectations in the EU and NATO

Helga Schmidt, ARD Brussels, December 10th, 2021 12:49 am

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