Austria's chancellor urges Europe to meet social needs

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2017 5:25 PM

VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Union must not forget the needs of its people and mutual solidarity is essential for successfully reforming the bloc, Austria's Chancellor said, three days before leaders meet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of union's founding treaty.

In an interview published on daily Der Standard's website on Wednesday, Christian Kern said that over the last decade too much had been talked about deregulation, competitiveness and the efficiency of the internal market while forgetting that Europe was made up of people, not balance sheets.

"We do not need a Europe where everything is becoming cheaper, but one that is better for people," he said,

The anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which paved the way for European integration, has been overcast by an array of existential crises for the union, including Britain's shock vote to leave, repeated financial trauma, migration flows and burgeoning populism.

Kern said a new powerful Franco-German axis was needed for a successful EU reform process.

He said he hoped for French independent candidate Emmanuel Macron to win the presidential elections in spring and for Social Democrat Martin Schulz to become the new German chancellor in autumn.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Toby Chopra)