“Making every effort”
“The Federal Government and the federal states aim to collaborate very closely,” stressed Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz after his meeting with the heads of government of the federal states. He presented the outcomes of the routine session on Thursday evening together with the State Premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrick Wüst, and the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller.
“We’ll be making every effort to meet our ambitious target of 30 million vaccinations,” said the Federal Chancellor. The Federal Government and the Länder have committed to providing this number of initial and booster vaccinations against the coronavirus by the end of the year.
Crisis team already up and running
The crisis team under General Carsten Breuer was already operational, said Scholz, adding that Breuer would be coordinating closely with all those in positions of responsibility. This was important so as to know exactly how much vaccine was available at any given time, said the Federal Chancellor. A panel of experts would be starting work next week too, he said: it would determine what needs to be done to further support the vaccination campaign. The Federal and Länder Governments would monitor the situation and take swift and decisive action, said the Federal Chancellor.
“Germany is not divided,” said Scholz. He disliked the current discussion about vaccinations, he said: “I feel that I’m just as much the chancellor of those who are sceptical about getting vaccinated. They have yet to be convinced – and my aim is to do just that.”
Focus on hate speech
Federal Chancellor Scholz also said he was concerned at the growth of online hate speech and disturbed by the increasingly offensive tone of discourse. He noted that legislation was already firmly in place to deal with this. Here he was referring to the Network Enforcement Act that requires platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to delete statements punishable under criminal law and also to report these to the authorities in future. In addition to this, he added, there was significant interest in swiftly ensuring that the full range of social media came under scrutiny.
At the State Premiers’ Conference, the heads of government of the 16 German federal states meet to coordinate policy. The meetings address topics at federal and state level as well as current European and international issues. Twice a year, the state premiers meet with the Federal Chancellor.
One federal state takes over the chair of the conference each year, subject to a predetermined sequence. The chair is currently held by North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition, the Federal and Länder Governments meet on a regular basis to take joint decisions to contain the coronavirus pandemic.