Austria has moved into the driver’s seat and taken up the six month rotating EU Presidency. The alpine republic says its main aim is getting the 25 nation group back on track. Restoring economic growth, getting the sceptical European Parliament to ratify the recently hard-won budget and trying to salvage the draft constitution will be the main priorities during the tenure.
Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel says he wants to steer the EU out of recent stormy waters: “We need to find out why so many europeans have lost faith with the EU. Its been a terrible year and public trust has been eroded”
On the relationship with Germany, Schuessel dismissed suggestions of political influence: “Our relationship is a good one. But in the past, its been compared to the workings of a car. I prefer musical comparisons.This is the year of Mozart, and we want to be compared to a harmonious orchestra with its all its complementary sections.”Side by side, the Austrian and German chancellors appeared at the traditional New Year performance of the “Marriage of Figaro” in Vienna. Mozart’s comic tale of romantic entanglements and marriages is so popular, the overture is often played on its own. Only time will tell if Austria’s presidency of the EU will end on a similarlyhigh note.