Chancellor Angela Merkel called Wednesday for unity
in Germany after she scored a major court victory against opponents
of her efforts to fix the eurozone crisis.
In a wide-ranging address to parliament in Berlin - which sounded at time like a re-election campaign speech - she said she would press ahead with a bipartisan policy to introduce a tax on financial transactions in the eurozone.
"The finance minister is doing his best to implement it," she said. "We want this financial transaction tax."
"But it's also a fact that the enthusiasm to introduce the tax among nations which have acute problems with their banks is not great. We will be the one urging this issue, but we have to note that there are nations which have a different opinion."
She appealed for opposition support to complete Germany's "great project" of scrapping nuclear energy and replacing it with wind and solar power. "We knew it would not be easy," she said. "I ask you as an opposition to be part of this together."
The chancellor said a constitutional court decision, also issued Wednesday, which rejected challenges to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) was a "strong signal" and the "first steps" had been taken to overcome the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.
"This is a good day for Germany and a good day for Europe," said the chancellor, who is gearing up to seek a third term in a general election likely to be in September 2013.
"The essential problem is that we have differing (levels of) competitivity in Europe," she said. Merkel has urged struggling euro nations to revive their economies by pruning back bureaucracy, labour protection rules and costly welfare.
"European growth is facing slightly recessive tendencies," she said, adding that Germany faced "an internationally difficult environment" economically.
The chancellor confirmed that she was seeking opposition backing to reform income tax scales so that pay rises were not consumed by tax.
"It is absolutely inexplicable that it's so difficult to discuss this with the Social Democrats and the Greens," she said.
The Social Democrats, the main opposition party, are widely seen as her next potential coalition partner if a deep slump in popularity for her current partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, continues.
The Social Democrats have backed her on the ESM and were not a party to the court challenge that was rejected Wednesday.
She has also invited them to help draft a bipartisan policy to buoy declining old age pensions for Germany's poor.
Elsewhere in her speech, the chancellor promised to soon introduce legislation declaring infant male circumcision legal. A court ruling in June which described the ritual as unlawful bodily harm has outraged Jewish and Muslim communities around the world.
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