Schroeder Cites EU Job Creation
BONN, Germany (AP) _ Germany assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union on Friday, with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder declaring job creation the primary goal of the six-month leadership.
In an article in the business newspaper Handelsblatt, Schroeder also said Germany would focus on preparations for drawing eastern nations into the European Union as well as on improving cooperation to prevent cross-border crime.
``We will not overcome these challenges without a close partnership with France,″ the chancellor wrote, acknowledging Germany’s traditional ties with its western neighbor. Together, France and Germany have been the engine behind the unification of Europe and the adoption of the euro, its common currency which begins trading on Monday.
Germany has been pushing hard for EU policies against Europe-wide high unemployment and flagging growth. Unemployment in Germany has been stuck for years at above 10 percent, and fighting joblessness was the main campaign promise that helped Schroeder oust long-serving Chancellor Helmut Kohl in September.
Schroeder also addressed calls within his own government for a reduction in Germany’s EU dues, saying Germany would continue to pay a large share because of its responsibility as the European nation with the strongest economy.
Still, he cautioned that ``excessive burdens must be rejected in the spirit of a fairness and cooperation.″
Germany took over the rotating presidency from Austria. Finland will assume the next six-month term.