The Austrian and German chancellors are set to combine their efforts, in a bid to revive the European Union. It comes as Vienna takes on the rotating presidency of the bloc from Britain. No shortage of challenges lie ahead after what has been a difficult year for the EU.
Wolfgang Schuessel is keen to turn things around. “We would like to breathe new life into Europe,” Austria’s leader told reporters, saying that last month’s eleventh-hour deal on a long-term budget for the EU establishes a good financial base. The chancellor praised the contribution made by his German counterpart in reaching that accord. Despite being a newcomer as German leader, Angela Merkel proved her effectiveness as a mediator in December’s tricky talks.
It remains to be seen whether her negotiating skills can bear similar fruit in resolving other thorny topics such as the future of the EU constitution.
“It goes without saying that we will support the Austrian presidency,” she said, speaking in Vienna where she has held talks with Schuessel. Austria’s tenure has unquestionably started in sensational style – and in perfect harmony – to the sound of the world-famous New Year’s concert in Vienna, attended by the German leader.