Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz met the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Rotterdam for the fourth round of German-Dutch intergovernmental consultations. Various ministers took part in the talks, in addition to the two heads of government.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz thanked the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for hosting the intergovernmental consultations in Rotterdam. Scholz pointed out that Germany and the Netherlands are close partners and good friends: “Our bilateral relations are already as close as they can be.”
The German and Dutch economies, societies and armed forces were closely interlinked, which benefited both countries, said Scholz, adding that the key topics of the talks were security and defence, strengthening Europe and sustainability of society and the business sphere.
A special focus was on the Russian offensive against Ukraine. The Federal Chancellor clarified once more in Rotterdam that this Russian aggression marked a turning point, and said: “It is a good thing that we are acting in unison and close coordination. We are side by side with Ukraine, which we are supporting politically and financially, and also by delivering weapons, and in particular through the military training that our two countries are providing.”
Germany and the Netherlands had delivered self-propelled howitzers and ammunition together, and were currently preparing to deliver Leopard 1 battle tanks together with Denmark, Scholz explained.
Europe’s security had to be strengthened further also in the context of NATO, Scholz stated, looking ahead to the NATO Summit that is taking place in Vilnius in July. The issue of deterrence would be discussed on this occasion, as well as stepping up of defence capabilities, he said. With regard to Finland’s and Sweden’s requests to join, the Federal Chancellor said: “I hope that we will then be able to welcome both countries to NATO.” He added that their accession would be a huge gain for security in the Euro-Atlantic area.
“Especially in uncertain times such as these, I am glad that our countries are also cooperating so closely on military matters,” the Federal Chancellor emphasised. He described the extensive mutual integration of the armed forces of the two countries as “unparalleled in Europe”.
The full integration of all three brigades of the Dutch armed forces into the structures of the German Federal Armed Forces would be completed in three days time, he said. Scholz pointed out that this was a milestone and an inspiration to continue and further intensify the military cooperation.
Another topic that was addressed was the European Union’s ability to act in international politics. “We agree that the EU should become stronger inside and out. For this we need more decisions to be made on a qualified majority basis. This is the only way in which a European Union with further members can retain its ability to act,” Scholz stressed.
On the issue of migration and in view of rising arrival numbers, the Federal Chancellor called for a united and crisis-proof asylum system in Europe. This required for the reform of the joint European asylum system to be concluded swiftly, he said.
The fight against climate change also played an important role in the consultations. “We are pursuing the path towards climate neutrality with determination, while still maintaining our industrial basis as the foundation of our countries’ prosperity,” the Federal Chancellor highlighted. With its industry plan for the “Green Deal” the EU Commission had laid the foundations for this debate, Scholz explained and added: “The transformation requires funding.” This was why a further consolidation of the capital market union was key, Scholz said: “If we harness our combined forces, including those in the private sector, this will enable us to generate stronger growth.”
Scholz emphasised that Germany and the Netherlands wished to cooperate even more closely in the areas of energy, industry, innovation and infrastructure, and that this had also been addressed in the conversations with the ministers.
Federal Chancellor Scholz took the visit to Rotterdam as an opportunity to express his gratitude for the Netherlands’ support in the past year. Germany had realigned its entire gas supply from East to West in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “All of this would not have been possible without the comprehensive support from our Dutch friends. At this point I’d like to say: Thank you for your solidarity!”
Another important step for strengthening Germany’s energy security was the initial agreement that had been reached for taking over the German Tennet subsidiary, Scholz said. “It is important here that this will be linked to close cooperation in the area of the network also in the future.”