“The current trend is extremely encouraging”

Chancellor meets with Heads of Government of the Länder “The current trend is extremely encouraging”

Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with the Heads of Government of the Länder. During the video conference, Angela Merkel, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller and Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder underlined common ground in the field of digitalisation. Also on the agenda were the energy transition, the Pact for the Rule of Law, and of course the current situation with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Angela Merkel with Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller and Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder

Chancellor Angela Merkel with Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller (at left) and Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

Digitalisation

At their meeting on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Heads of Government of the Länder underlined progress made in implementing the Online Access Act (Onlinezugangsgesetz). The Federal Government is providing a sum of three billion euros from the economic stimulus package by the end of 2022 to ensure swift implementation. The focus is to be on user friendliness. Citizens and companies alike are only to be required to provide certain standard information once to public authorities.

One key component is eID or electronic identity verification, which will ensure that services can be handled simply and safely online. In future, people should be able to verify their identity using a smartphone.

Energy transition

The matter of the energy transition was also discussed in detail at the meeting, in response to a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court. “We need to raise our level of ambition,” declared the Chancellor. Participants agreed to adopt more ambitious goals in terms of expanding the transmission grid, to give one example. Ways of accelerating planning procedures and expanding the use of renewable energy at decentralised level are under discussion.

Pact for the Rule of Law

The participants at the Conference of Minister Presidents took positive stock of the Pact for the Rule of Law, concluded in 2019 by the Federal and Länder Governments. It aimed to strengthen the rule of law on a permanent basis, particularly within the judiciary and the police force. The new jobs created in the judiciary over the period 2017 to 2021 have had tangible impacts and made the rule of law as a whole more visible to citizens. Court procedures have also been accelerated and simplified.

We must continue to take COVID-19 seriously

“The current trend is extremely encouraging,” underlined Chancellor Angela Merkel, with regard to the pandemic. The efforts we have made in recent months have paid off. At the same time, however, she warned that the coronavirus has not vanished. “We should not get careless.” The Federal and Länder Governments are to meet every four weeks at the level of the Heads of the State Chancellery, Angela Merkel announced. In the second half of August, there is also to be a separate meeting with the Heads of Government of the Länder.

At the Conference of Minister Presidents (MPK), the Heads of Government of Germany’s 16 Länder come together and discuss their positions. They address issues at federal and Länder level, as well as current European and international matters. Twice a year the Heads of Government of the Länder meet with the Chancellor after their meeting.

The rotating Chair of the Conference passes every year from one Land to the next in a predetermined order. Berlin currently chairs the Conference. The Federal and Länder Governments also meet regularly to decide jointly on measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.