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EU Grows and Germany Takes Over G8 and EU Presidency

Today, January 1st, Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union. Slovenia joins the Eurozone. And Germany takes over the presidency of the European Union for the first half of 2007 and the G8 for the entire year. One of Chancellor Merkel's first tasks is to have consultations with President Bush in Washington on January 4th.
 
The International Herald Tribune reports that Germany is working on a proposal for a tougher European policy on Russia.

DW World reports that Germany wants the G8 to 'go back to its roots' and refocus on problems facing the global economy, incl. structural reforms in Europe, the massive twin budget and trade deficits of the United States, China's vast foreign currency reserves, and greater transparency on the worldwide financial and capital markets.

DW World points out:
For the first time, the euro surpassed the US dollar in terms of the number of banknotes in circulation. Despite the euro's strength, European citizens remain skeptical, blaming it for making things more expensive.
The International Herald Tribune (HT: Influx) reports that the United Arab Emirates have started
"in a limited way," to sell part of its dollar reserves, the governor of the country's central bank, Sultan Bin Nasser al-Suwaidi, said in an interview. "We will accumulate euros each time the market appears to dip" as part of a plan to expand the country's holding of euros to 10 percent of the total from the current 2 percent. The Gulf state is among oil producers, including Iran, Venezuela and Indonesia, looking to shift their currency reserves into euros or sell their oil, which is now priced in dollars, for euros.
The German EU Presidency website mentions sensible long-term planning and cooperation with smaller EU countries:
For the first time an 18-month programme for the three successive German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies was elaborated for the period January 2007 to June 2008. (...) This "team programme" is designed to increase continuity in the Council's work.
According to the White House, President Bush and Chancellor Merkel will discuss these topics on January 4th: Afghanistan, advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, Lebanon, "preventing Iran from developing the capability to make nuclear weapons, ending the violence in Darfur, determining the final status of Kosovo, promoting free trade and further transatlantic economic integration, and advancing energy security. The German role on all of these issues will be especially important in 2007 as Germany assumes the presidencies of both the European Union and G-8 on January 1."

Funny Endnote and counter example to the survey that revealed young Americans "Geographic Illiteracy":
"A 21-year-old German tourist who wanted to visit his girlfriend in the Australian metropolis Sydney landed 13,000 kilometers (8,077 miles) away near Sidney, Montana, after mistyping his destination on a flight booking Web site. Dressed for the Australian summer in T-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday,"
CNN has learned.

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Erkan's field diary on : "A new transatlantic economic pact?

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Dossier of Thursday, January 4, 2007; A new transatlantic economic pact? At the inception of Germany's presidency of the EU, Chancellor Angela Merkel meets today with US President George W. Bush in Washington. Before leaving Germany, she called for a...

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