Energy to be key topic at EU summit: Steinmeier

17th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

17 March 2006, BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday that energy will be one of the key topics at next week's European Union summit in Brussels.

17 March 2006

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday that energy will be one of the key topics at next week's European Union summit in Brussels.

An intensive dialogue was needed between consumer states, transit nations and producer countries in order to guarantee secure energy supplies, he said in a statement to the German parliament.

"The recent gas dispute between Russia and the Ukraine gave us a taste of what we can expect if we are unable to contain a simmering conflict and not use the opportunity to adopt responsible policies based on cooperation," he said.

He was referring to the move by Russia's Gazprom earlier this year to halt natural gas deliveries to Ukraine in a dispute over prices. The action sent alarm bells ringing other countries heavily dependent of Russia for energy supplies, and led to calls for a more cohesive European energy policy.

Steinmeier said it was necessary to conduct a dialogue with Russia and other producer nations because securing energy supplies was an issue that will face the EU for a long time to come.

Turning to international trade, the foreign minister said EU citizens "are concerned at the negative consequences of globalisation" on their livelihoods and job chances.

The heads of state and government meeting in Brussels March 23-24 needed to get the message across that the EU was necessary in order to shape globalisation politically, he said.

"This means we must create conditions to promote growth and employment," Steinmeier said.

He said the EU needed to hold firm on the Lisbon strategy, which was adopted in 2000 to make the bloc "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs."

In addition to energy, central themes of the summit would be greater investment in research and development, improving economic conditions and creating more job chances for the young, older people and women.

The foreign minister welcomed the "period of reflection" in the EU, following the rejection last year of the EU constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands.

He said it was important to reduce the pressure on citizens who were worried about the consequences of globalisation before making a new attempt to revive the constitution.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany had no plans to present new proposals to relaunch the controversial treaty when Berlin assumes the rotating EU presidency next January.

No action could be taken until after the results of national elections in France and the Netherlands scheduled for 2007, she told a parliamentary committee meeting.

Reports coming out of Brussels and Paris said Germany and France were working on a plan to salvage key elements of the rejected treaty and rebrand it under a new name in order to make it appear less threatening to voters.

Steinmeier defended Germany's role in a planned EU mission to safeguard presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June.

He said Germany was willing to provide troops for a limited operation as long other EU nations did the same and there was a clear mandate from the United Nations.


Subject: German news

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