Scholz and Rutte show united front on Ukraine, COVID-19

Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte (L) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attend a joint press conference following their meeting at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 13 January 2022. [EPA-EFE/Andreas Gora]

During the first visit of Dutch PM Mark Rutte to Berlin to meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two affirmed their agreement on issues like Ukraine, the fight against COVID-19, and economic transformation, but differed on nuclear energy. “We have all made it clear that there would be serious consequences if there were military aggression” against Ukraine, explained Scholz at a press conference following his meeting with Rutte, but noted that dialogue via NATO, the Organisation on Security and Co-Operation in Europe and Normandy was key.

“It is difficult, everyone can see that, but it is also equally necessary,” he added.

The two also broached common ground on the issue of the European economic recovery following the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Scholz added “what we think is key, is the successful ecological transformation of our economies”.

“On climate change, we will also give the necessary support for the ambitious plans of the Commission,” he said, alluding to the EU legislative proposals tabled in July and December 2021, the Fit-for-55 package.

However, as the green finance row in Brussels over the role of nuclear and fossil gas continues, the stark differences in the German and Dutch approaches are apparent.

While the Dutch government aims to build another two nuclear reactors to decarbonise its electricity mix, Germany shut down half of its last nuclear reactors in December.

Rutte’s meeting with Scholz on Thursday could be interpreted as a snub, as the Dutch premier met with North Rhine-Westphalia’s minister-president Hendrik Wüst the day before.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer |

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