German chancellor Scholz visits Prague, discusses energy crisis

The European Union (EU) must find a solution to Europe’s energy crisis, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after a meeting here on Monday.

“We agreed on the need to find a pan-European solution to reduce electricity prices, which certainly do not correspond to production costs and are reaching a level that is not acceptable,” Fiala told journalists.

Meanwhile, Scholz said that “the current electricity prices are unjustifiable because the cost of production is not that high at all,” adding that it is “necessary for us to make structural changes” to address the situation.

The agreement between the two neighboring European countries, which are both reliant on heavy industry for economic growth, comes just after the Czech Republic called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU Energy Council.

The Czech Republic currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, and the country’s Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela announced on Monday that the extraordinary meeting will be held on Sept. 9 in Brussels. “We must fix the energy market. Solution on the EU level is by far the best we have,” he tweeted.

The Czech Republic has been hard hit by inflation, reaching a worrying 17.5 percent annual inflation rate in July. This prompted the government to approve an inflation aid package of 177 billion Czech crowns (7.18 billion U.S. dollars) last week.

Fiala and Scholz also discussed common European energy infrastructure, with the Czech side expressing an interest in acquiring capacity in the liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals that Germany is set to build.

Prior to the meeting between the two leaders, Scholz gave a speech at Prague’s Charles University, in which he called for EU expansion and the creation of a new air defense system.

Scholz said that the EU should expand to the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova and potentially Georgia.

The EU should also adopt a majority vote rule for important decisions, he said, and drop its system of unanimous decision making.

According to Scholz, the EU needs a common framework to discuss key issues such as security, energy and climate change.

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