BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday urged the European Union to take the unity the bloc found on Russia’s war in Ukraine and apply it to big climate reforms.
During an hour-long question-and-answer session in the German parliament, Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “miscalculated” on EU unity by imposing sanctions on Moscow and by giving weapons and financial aid to kyiv.
“We must now use this unity to make great strides in Europe, so that this translates into momentum that goes far beyond,” said the Chancellor.
Scholz said the top priority was to advance climate reforms to shift EU energy production to renewables and reduce vulnerabilities resulting from dependencies on foreign supplies.
“In my opinion, it is important that we now show solidarity in the face of the challenges posed by Russian aggression and the economic consequences of the sanctions,” he said. “And that means above all that we must ensure that Europe is self-sufficient in energy supply and independent of fossil resources, in particular the need to import coal, oil and gas.”
However, the EU has recently struggled to maintain the unity it found at the start of the war, with some countries calling for a rapid ban on Russian energy imports, while Berlin and others have argued that it would be too costly and would tip Europe into recession.
Scholz’s urging reflected the German government’s growing concern over the slow pace of the EU’s Fit for 55 package, a pillar of the bloc’s “Green Deal” climate protection plan, in legislative talks between the countries of the EU. EU.
Germany tried unsuccessfully to insert language into recent European Council summit conclusions that would have underscored the importance of the EU’s shift to renewables for the bloc’s broader security.
Asked about the Russian-Ukrainian peace talks, Scholz stressed that Moscow should not be allowed to dictate the terms of a deal to Ukraine. He said kyiv had already made “a big concession to the aggressor” by agreeing to discuss the possibility of neutrality for Ukraine.
Referring to the mass killings in the kyiv suburb of Bucha, Scholz made it clear that Berlin – like other Western capitals – had no doubt that Russian forces committed war crimes.
“Before their retirement, Russian soldiers committed a massacre of Ukrainian civilians, including children, women and the elderly,” he said, adding: “The killing of civilians is a war crime. To be Clearly, the perpetrators and their principals must be held accountable.”