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Germany

Schröder Encourages Personal Responsibility

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in his annual New Year’s speech called on Germans to do their part in bringing the country’s ailing economy back on track.

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He's asking Germans to do more for their country.

Thanking his countrymen for their willingness to quickly help the victims of Friday’s earthquake in Iran, Schröder said that only an economically strong Germany could continue to take on its global responsibilities.

A social welfare and labor market reform package recently passed by parliament was one way to bring Germany back from economic stagnation, the chancellor said.

“For some of you, these measures will cause limitations or cutbacks,” he said. “We know that. But I assure you that we are trying to spread the burden equally.”

Shopping for Germany

A billion euro tax cut approved just weeks ago will be another way to spur job growth and kick-start the economy, Schröder said, reminding Germans that they should help along this process by spending more money.

“You personally can be a motor of economic growth,” Schröder said. “Your confidence in the future can play a role in saving your neighbor’s job.”

Combating health care fraud

Personal responsibility is also the key word in reforming Germany’s health care sector to lower labor costs, according to the chancellor. Starting Thursday, Germans will have to pay additional fees for doctor’s visits, medication and hospital stays, among others.

While his Social Democratic and Green government is committed to ensuring universal access to health care regardless of income, Schröder said Germans should also help to reduce health care costs by avoiding unnecessary treatments.

“Wastefulness, exploitation and fraud in the health sector harms us all,” he said.

Creating a child-friendly environment

Referring to Germany’s drop in education standards, Schröder said that federal and state governments would work together to mend the problems. He added that billions are being spent to expand child-care facilities.

“We want that more women dare to have children, that young people can manage to have both a family and a career,” he said and asked his fellow citizens to help encourage a child-friendly environment.

Germans should not just expect politicians to bring about change, though. “A welcoming attitude towards children begins in the workplace and in your own neighborhood,” Schröder said.

He added that not only Germans would gain from further reforms in the coming year. “If Germany undergoes a decisive and cohesive modernization, not only our country will benefit,” he said. “All of Europe is watching and setting its hopes on our efforts.”

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