Chancellor Schröder will host the French and Turkish leaders in Berlin for talks on Tuesday that are set to delve into the issues of European economic power and Ankara joining the EU.
Schröder's and Chirac's cabinets will convene jointly in Berlin
Schröder will start the day with a joint meeting between his and French President Jacques Chirac's cabinets. Closer cooperation in economic and cultural matters will top the agenda, in particular the EU's target to surpass the United States as the leading world economic power by 2010 and reforming the 41-year-old Franco-German Youth Office devoted to exchanges.
German government spokesman Bela Anda stressed on Monday that Germany would be at the forefront of making Europe the strongest economic region by 2010.
"The chancellor believes that Europe will be able to master this route," Anda said. But he added the continent would have to make greater efforts than it is currently.
Anda's statements came at the heels of news reports that, with only six years remaining, the EU is even further from becoming the most competitive economy than when it set the objective -- dubbed the Lisbon Agenda -- in the Portuguese capital in 2000.
Outgoing European Commission President Romano Prodi
In an interview published Monday in the Financial Times (FT) newspaper, outgoing European Commission chief Romani Prodi declared that "Lisbon is a big failure." He blamed individual countries from blocking progress by exercising their veto rights.
The FT also wrote that a review drafted by former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok for a Nov. 5 meeting of EU heads determined that the bloc had fallen further behind the US economically.
Erdogan lobbies for EU entry
Schröder is Erdogan's (left) most important supporter for Turkish EU entry
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with Schröder and Chirac in the late afternoon to discuss his country's prospects for joining the EU. Schröder is Turkey's most important backer for entry to the bloc, despite some wavering from his fellow Social Democrats and skepticism from the country's conservative opposition.
Chirac, too, supports the Turks in their quest to join the EU, but few of his conservative party colleagues share his stance. He has announced that French voters will vote on the matter.
Before that happens, however, EU leaders at a summit in December are supposed to lay out Turkey's prospects of joining the bloc, either setting a date for accession talks to begin or proposing an alternative relationship to the country.
Erdogan will also oversee the final signature on state-run Turkish Airlines' contract to buy 36 Airbus planes worth $2.8 billion (€2.19 billion).