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Chancellor Gerhard Schröder Introduces "Agenda 2010" (March 14, 2003)

In a dramatic presentation of his government’s program, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called for courage to reshape the welfare state through structural reforms such as fiscal consolidation, tax cuts, and benefit reductions in order to make the economy more competitive on a global level.

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Policy Statement by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to the German Bundestag

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In my responsibility for the future of our country, I will begin this policy statement with a dual motto that cuts to the heart of my message today: “Courage for peace and courage for change.”

We must summon the courage to fight for peace as long as there is still a glimmer of hope that war can be avoided.

We must summon the courage to make the changes that are necessary for our country to reclaim a leading position in Europe’s economic and social development.

The situation – everyone in this building senses it, but those outside do as well – is extremely tense, both internationally and nationally. The crisis in Iraq is straining the international economic situation, which is precarious enough to begin with.

Furthermore, Germany – and it is important to see this as well – is struggling with weak economic growth, the causes of which are among other things structural. Non-wage labor costs have risen to a level that is almost unbearable for employees. And for employers, these costs are an impediment to creating new jobs. Investments and spending on consumer goods have declined drastically, not least because during the past three years approximately 700 billion Euros were literally obliterated on the German stock markets.

In this situation, politics must take action to restore trust.

We must improve the basic conditions for increased growth and greater employment.

The federal government is convinced that it must prioritize and implement certain measures – to stimulate economic growth and consolidate the budget, to create jobs and boost the economy, and to ensure social security in old age and sickness – and I would like to present those measures to you today, point by point.

We will be cutting state benefits, promoting individual responsibility, and demanding that every individual make greater efforts.

All elements of society will have to do their part: employers and employees, the self-employed, and retirees, too. We will have to make a massive joint effort to reach our goal.

But I am sure that we will reach it.

[ . . . ]

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