German foreign minister calls for a new EU approach towards the East

Germany’s chief diplomat has set out new priorities for the 2007 German presidency in 2007 in his recent speech. He particularly underlined the need for a new approach towards the EU’s eastern neighbours.

Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to reformulate the EU’s policy approach towards its eastern neighbours. At a conference in Berlin on 30 August 2006 he said that peoples’ concerns should be taken seriously, but also that the EU’s foreign policy mechanisms should be reinforced. He further added that the German government is waiting to get a mandate from the Council in December, when the Commission will have presented its report on the Neighbourhood policy. It then intends to further develop and intensify its efforts during its EU presidency in 2007.

Besides the neighbourhood policy, Germany will put an emphasis on reviving the debate on the EU constitution. Steinmeier said: “We need a constitution, the sooner, the better.”

Steinmeier also stated that the most recent enlargement was a “success story”, in particular for Germany. He encountered fears of “Polish plumbers” and pledged that Europe has gained a dynamic economic area with the accession of eastern European countries. This marks a positive signal with respect to the relationship to Poland.

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