Scholz advocates for a future 36-member European Union 'of free and equal people'

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By Euronews  with AP
Il cancelliere tedesco Olaf Scholz
Il cancelliere tedesco Olaf Scholz   -  Copyright  Michael Sohn/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday called for reforms of the European Union to make it fit for the admission of new countries as well as more military autonomy of the 27-country pact.

Speaking at the Congress of the Party of European Socialists in Berlin, Scholz advocated for the expansion of EU's membership, saying "a united EU of 27, 30, 36 states with more than 500 million free and equal citizens can bring its weight to bear even more strongly in this world".

Scholz also backed more military autonomy for the bloc and better coordination of military efforts between the member states.

"In Europe, we need a better interplay between our defense efforts. In the future, Europe will need a coordinated increase in capabilities, more joint procurement, an EU rapid response team by 2025 and an EU headquarters with a clear command structure", the German Chancellor said.

Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans also spoke at the congress and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of attempting to defeat democracy.

"Putin's agenda is not just about Ukraine. Putin's agenda is also about defeating democracy, about spreading autocracy", Timmermans said. 

"Let's move forward together for a united, social and peaceful Europe," says @Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz, at today's @PES_PSE congress. It won't be easy, but it has to be!

On Friday, Scholz welcomed the prime ministers of Spain and Portugal, Pedro Sánchez and António Costa, at the Federal Chancellery and Bundestag.

The joint talks focused in particular on European policy and international issues, including preparations for the European Council in Brussels later in October, energy supplies, and Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.

The three leaders are in favour of the construction of the trans-Pyrenean energy interconnection pipeline, MIDCAT, which is currently facing much reluctance from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Scholz is pushing hard for the construction of the infrastructure, which will allow Germany to become independent of Russian gas. The chancellor reiterated on several occasions that MIDCAT in the future could be used to transport green hydrogen instead of gas.