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Germany

Searching for Jobs in Unison

Following a meeting between the German government and heads of the conservative opposition, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has called on the latter to suggest ways of financing tax cuts.

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Schröder and Fischer met with the opposition to discuss the job crisis

On Thursday, the Chancellor met with Christian Democrat and Christian Socialist Union leaders, Angela Merkel and Edmund Stoiber in an effort to come up with new ways of tackling Germany's mounting problem of unemployment.

Critics have been quick to slam the summit as unproductive, but both government and opposition were encouraged by the outcome. "I think the talks, which we conducted in an incredibly civil manner, prove that there are certain similarities. There is a recognisable will to do something to encourage investment and reduce unemployment in Germany," Schröder said after the two and a half hour meeting.

Conservative view

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Angela Merkel and Edmund Stoiber at the job summit

Angela Merkel said the pressure exerted upon the government by the CDU and CSU had partially paid off. She and her Bavarian counterpart, Edmund Stoiber gave the Chancellor's proposed corporate tax cuts their blessing, but the parties failed to reach any consensus on exactly how to set about it.

"We made it clear that there can be no new debt creation here, which means we have to discuss the financing," Merkel said after the summit.

Speaking on public broadcaster ZDF on Thursday evening, Schröder said he would implement the cuts before the next federal elections in 2006, but said it was up to the CDU and CSU to propose ways of setting about it.

Mixed reactions

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Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Joschka Fischer at the summit

In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung, Saarland's SPD leader Heiko Maas applauded the results of the summit. "Reforming corporate tax will lead to greater justice and a better competitive climate in the German economy."

But the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) described Thursday's meeting as "much ado for little progress". DIW President, Klaus Zimmerman said that although he had not had high expectations of the summit, it had produced even fewer results than he had dared to hope for.

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