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Economics Minister Threatens to Quit if Reforms Fail

Germany Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement has said he will step down if Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's labor reforms fail in a parliamentary arbitration committee this week. The spate of reforms, called Hartz IV after their author, Volkswagen's personnel head Peter Hartz, would combine unemployment and welfare payments for the country's long-term jobless with the effect of reducing payment levels from Jan. 1, 2005. The changes are aimed at boosting incentives for the long-term unemployed to find work and reduce the Federal Labor Agency's annual payout amounts. "Of course, if it fails, I have failed," Clement told the news channel N24. "It's completely clear -- one has to draw the consequences if it doesn't work. I would do so right away."