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Germany

Schröder Assures Reforms Will Not be Stopped

German Chancellor Schröder has reasserted that there wouldn’t be a general freeze on reforms after critics hit out at his thumbs-down to a nursing care reform proposal by health minister Ulla Schmidt. The move, part of the chancellor’s health care reforms which took effect on Jan. 1, aimed to levy an additional €2.50 on couples who aren’t raising kids in order to improve the situation of those with kids. Critics say the tactic was meant to woo back voters angry about Schröder’s labor market reforms, which have seen a slashing of welfare benefits and made it easier for companies to hire and fire people. Observers have also pointed out that the chancellor decided to shoot down the potentially unpopular reform in the run up to 14 regional, local and European elections later this year and in the face of record low opinion ratings for his Social Democratic Party. Schröder, however, has denied the accusations and said he finds it wrong to differentiate between people who are raising kids and those who already have.