Sumario: Chancellor Schüssel: Investment in research and development to secure the European social model (Brussels: 24 March 2006)
Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, the current President of the European Council, said late on Thursday that the first round of summit talks had been encouraging: "I am very satisfied with the quality of the talks. For the first time the social partners and the President of the European Central Bank were invited to the meeting. One thing is clear: we will be able to maintain our European social model only if we invest more only in research, technology development and
Chancellor Schüssel reported that the discussions had been divided into three blocks: the Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen gave a keynote speech to open the debate on research and technology development, the Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates spoke on the topic of employment initiatives and the Slovene Prime Minister Janez Janša introduced a debate on small and medium-sized entrerprises. The working dinner, at which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the keynote speaker, was devoted to energy policy. "Energy is a new theme. The debate ranged from network security and prices to supply sources, with a clear focus on renewables", Chancellor Schüssel said, adding that biomass was a priority and a possible new form of production. He stressed, however, that each country still has the right to choose its own energy sources, but added: "It is nevertheless crucial to draw up an energy strategy for the European Union". According to the Chancellor, the external dimension of energy policy is extremely important in this connection. The June summit will focus on this element of the new energy strategy.