German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, his government would make Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, fit for the future and vowed it would leave no one behind in this major transformation of the economy.
Vowing increased investments in climate protection and digitalization Scholz said, he would place more focus on domestic issues, including modernizing the economy and society. He also emphasized the immediate need to tackle the pandemic.
Scholz made these remarks in his first major address to the parliament after replacing Angela Merkel last week.
The 63-year old, who had paid visits to Paris, Brussels and Warsaw since taking office, also underscored the need to strengthen the European Union and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Europe’s transatlantic allies in the face of security threats from Russia and China.
“We have about 23 years ahead of us in which we must and will get out of fossil fuels which means the biggest transformation of our industry and economy in at least 100 years,” said the new German chancellor.
Scholz had served as vice chancellor and finance minister in the coalition with Merkel over the last four years.
Germany needs to double its production of renewable energy by 2030 and expand infrastructure including charging stations for electric vehicles, said Scholz.
He also mentioned that the government would create the framework for most of the investment in Germany’s future including expanding the state bank’s role in supporting start-ups.
He went on to add, “such a transformation could only work if there was social cohesion”. He wen to add, he plans on raising minimum wage and make society more inclusive, through self-identification for transgender people and the liberalization of citizenship laws.”
“We are an immigration country … but we must work at becoming a better country for integration,” said Scholz.
Opposition members from both sides of the political spectrum have attacked the government on its proposals to fund public investments by taking on billions of euros in extra debt.
Opposition lawmakers said they would file a complaint with the constitutional court on the government’s plans to tap unused debt from this year’s budget for future spending on climate and economic transformation.
His speech to the parliament also mentioned his foreign policy. He said his government would work to strengthen the European Union and aims to see expand qualified majority voting at the European Council.
Addressing Europe’s most immediate crisis, Scholz reiterated warnings To Russia that any violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity would attract a high price. Berlin continues to seek a dialog with Moscow. “We will speak with one voice here with our European partners and our transatlantic allies,” said Scholz.