Then German finance minister Olaf Scholz addresses a press conference following a video meeting with the heads of government of Germany's federal states at the Chancellery in Berlin on Nov 18, 2021. (MICHAEL KAPPELER / POOL / AFP)
BERLIN – Germany wants to use its presidency of the Group of Seven to develop it into a club that is pioneering in its efforts to achieve green growth and a socially just world, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in his first New Year's address.
Our goal is a sovereign, strong Europe. A Europe that lives according to its common values of peace, the rule of law and democracy.
"Starting tomorrow, Germany will for one year take over the presidency of the group of seven economically strong, democratic states – the G7," Scholz said in his speech on Friday, according to a pre-released transcript from the government's press office.
"We will use our presidency so that this group of states becomes a pioneer – a pioneer for a climate-neutral way of doing business and a fair world," Scholz said.
In his previous roles as vice chancellor and finance minister, Scholz suggested that the European Union should team up with countries like the United States, Canada and Japan to create a "climate club" in which members agree joint rules and common standards on how to reduce carbon emissions.
The goal of such a club would be not only to accelerate the global shift towards a more climate-friendly economy, but also to avoid trade friction linked to different green tariff regimes, such as the EU's planned carbon border levy.
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"International cooperation is important. In a world that will soon be home to 10 billion people, our voices will only be heard if we perform in a choir with many others," Scholz said.
That is also the reason why Germany's new coalition government is determined to strengthen the European Union, said Scholz, who succeeded long-serving former Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month.
"Our goal is a sovereign, strong Europe. A Europe that lives according to its common values of peace, the rule of law and democracy," the chancellor added.
On the issue of Ukraine, where Western countries are concerned by a Russian military build-up near the border, Scholz reiterated that the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected. Germany would continue to work closely with transatlantic allies to guarantee peace, he said.
"With a view on Ukraine, we are currently facing new challenges. The inviolability of borders is a high good – and not negotiable," Scholz said.
Russia denies planning to attack Ukraine and says it has the right to move its troops on its own soil as it likes.