Federal Chancellor Scholz in Italy
On a visit to Rome, Federal Chancellor Scholz stressed that Germany must be well prepared if the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads. All those who were vaccinated would have to receive a booster jab, he said. At his inaugural visit, Scholz also talked to Italy’s Prime Minister Draghi about climate change, digitalisation and social cohesion in Europe.
“The task facing all of us in Europe right now is to ensure that those who are already vaccinated get a booster jab,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz. On Tuesday he will be talking to the state premiers about how this can be implemented as effectively as possible. Further restrictions on personal contacts will also be on the agenda – “to ensure we’re well prepared when the new variant of the virus spreads throughout Europe,” said Scholz, adding that the latter was highly infectious and there was a risk of large numbers of people coming into contact with it.
On a trip to Rome on Monday he noted that Italy had achieved an exemplary vaccination rate and was seeking to increase this even further. “We’ve also vaccinated a lot of our citizens, but not as many as we would like. That’s why one of the decisions we’re looking to make now in Germany is to move forward in achieving a very, very high vaccination rate,” said the Federal Chancellor.
Further enhancing the European Union
Scholz called his inaugural visit to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi “a particularly distinctive sign of the sound collaboration between us.” He said that this was something the two countries had both the capability and the will to build on in the coming years. “It will be crucial for us to take this major step forward in Europe. We need a strong and better Union,” said Scholz said at a joint press conference after the talks with Draghi.
Germany and Italy were absolutely vital to ensuring this goal really was achieved, he added, saying that it was necessary to strengthen the economy and social cohesion in Europe. Europe had “shown what it was capable of on this issue” with its recovery plan, he said.
Climate change and digitalisation: joint action the only way forward
Scholz said that putting a stop to man-made climate change was one of the great challenges of the modern era. It required a major industrial modernisation project that would only succeed “if we manage to invest in modern technologies,” he said.
Successful digitalisation was also key to Europe’s role as a continent in the world of the future, as well as in terms of its economic strength and competitiveness. As the Federal Chancellor clearly stated: “Close cooperation is absolutely imperative here.” This applied to Germany and Italy, too, he said, which is why the two countries had agreed to further intensify efforts in this regard.
Plan of action for bilateral cooperation
The governments of the two countries would work on a joint plan of action to deepen bilateral relations, said Federal Chancellor Scholz. Providing the pandemic situation allows it, the plan was to meet again soon for large-scale government consultations, he added.
The security situation in Europe was also discussed. There was agreement that Europe must speak with one voice and work closely together, said Federal Chancellor Scholz: “This is the firm intention of our two countries.”