Germany to launch EU charm offensive

Germany to launch EU charm offensive
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (l) with European Council president Herman Van Rompuy. Photo: DPA
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday he hoped to rectify his country's image in Europe, where Germany is often accused of being behind tough belt-tightening economic policies.

"Communication is very important in politics and misunderstandings can be avoided if people speak to each other often," he said after talks in Brussels with the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who is also a member of the German Social Democrats (SPD).

After a meeting on Monday with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, he was also scheduled to meet European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"I hope that the deformed perception of Germany's role in Europe can be corrected," Steinmeier said on his first trip to Brussels after being named as minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's new grand coalition government.

The implementation of harsh austerity measures across the European Union to help overcome the economic crisis has often been attributed by critics to the bloc's paymaster and biggest economy, and notably to Merkel.

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