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Germany

Germany in Brief

German parliament welcomes EU draft constitution; new anti-terror concept for hijacked airplanes; government hammers out 2004 budget; and techno Love Parade to raise funds for Iraq.

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The Bundestag is strongly supportive of the European draft constitution.

One Europe, one constitution

Germany's lower house of parliament, Bundestag, on Thursday strongly supported the latest draft for a European Union constitution. The ruling SPD/Green party coalition government and the opposition CDU/CSU agreed on Thursday that the new European draft constitution may not be perfect, but it did represent a good compromise. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Europe stood at "one of the most significant crossroads in its history" and called the planned document "the project of the century". He pointed out that future EU member states had been equal partners in developing the draft in the EU convention. "This shows that there is no difference between a 'new' and an 'old' Europe in the expanded EU," Fischer said. "There is just one 'common' Europe."

Concept for increased safety in German airspace

The German government wants to establish a new center for air defense in the case of terrorist attacks in air traffic. It would also have access to NATO information, according to defense ministry statements from Thursday. The new safety concept stipulates that military fighter jets would be scrambled if hijacked planes were thought to be misused as weapons. Selected airports would serve as possible emergency airstrips for such units, but no cities were named. A 31-year old man's random flight around downtown Frankfurt in a motor glider earlier this year triggered the discussions of establishing legal guidelines in the case of air-based terror attacks.

No hope for a balanced budget by 2006

Germany will post a budget deficit of €23.8 billion ($27.2 billion) in 2004, compared to around €18.9 billion this year, according to estimates unveiled Thursday by Finance Minister Hans Eichel. However, the government will invest €24.8 billion, down from €26.7 billion in 2003, he said in a statement. Eichel is due to present the draft 2004 budget to the cabinet next Wednesday. Under the German constitution, he cannot present a budget in which new debt will exceed investment. The Finance Minister had to give up his hopes of a balanced budget by the year 2006.

Raving for a good cause

Berlin's annual techno rave party, the Love Parade, and the German Red Cross are raising funds to help with reconstruction in Iraq. According to the two organizations, the money will be used to help with musical projects in the war-torn Gulf state. This year's 15th street party will take place on July 12 under the motto "Love Rules". Some 750,000 ravers grooved through the streets of the German capital last year, despite persistent rain.

Compiled by DW staff with material from wire services.

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