Neither Austria nor Finland touched thorny issues such as reviving the European Union constitutional treaty and the peace process of the Middle East during their EU presidencies in 2006, leaving the hard nuts for Germany to crack in the first half of 2007.
Germany, in its turn, is keen to play a leading role in pushing forward the settlement of these problems.
Revival of EU constitutional treaty
Leaders of Germany have repeatedly vowed to tackle the constitutional crisis by resuming painstaking discussions with all EU nations when the country holds the EU helm from January through June.
On presenting Germany's EU work program for the next six months to the European Parliament, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Wednesday to forge an agreement with EU states and institutions on a new timetable for resurrecting the treaty by the end of the presidency.
She expected a deal on reviving the new treaty to be clinched by European Parliament elections in spring 2009, adding failing to resolve the crisis would be a "historical mistake".
As a European power, Germany has more guts to be in the forefront to handle the headache the bloc has faced since the constitutional treaty was shelved in mid-2005 after France and the Netherlands rejected it in referenda.
Germany's active participation in the matter is in the interests of the country and Europe, observers here say.
In Merkel's opinion, a new constitution was needed to boost Europe's global clout. To put the project back on track, she once said, would enable the EU to regain "its ability to act," urging the EU states to "focus on the union and on common interests, and it is important for us to concentrate on them and not on our differences."
Merkel, capable and experienced in dealing with difficult problems, has won trust among her European colleagues due to her extraordinary performance in successfully helping the EU out of its budget crisis just one month after she took office in November 2005.
She has been regarded by some as a suitable person to lead the 27-nation bloc out of the current constitutional impasse.
But as EU nations remain divided over the treaty with some supporting the old one and others preferring to revise it, Merkel admitted restarting the process was an uphill battle.
Reviving middle east peace process
Germany has made the revival of the Middle East peace process as another priority during its EU presidency.
It pledged to focus on reactivating peace efforts by the so-called Middle East Quartet -- the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.
Resorting to its special relations with Russia and the United States, the Merkel government has garnered support for her plan to convene a Quartet meeting both from Russia and the United States.
With her nudge, the four parties are expected to meet in early February in Washington after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to the Middle East and Berlin this week to work this out.
Rice briefed Merkel on her four-day visit to the conflict-hit region on Thursday, saying she found the parties in the region "very desirous of extending the road map".
Neglected as Washington has been struggling in the mire of the Iraqi war, the Middle East peace process has been stalled for a time and bloodshed continues.
Germany has seen it as an opportunity to exert its influence in the region, thus earning credit for her country and the EU from the world community.
Germany's ultimate goal
Since its unification in 1990, Germany has sought to get more involved in European and international affairs to enhance its national image and expand global influence.
Merkel's predecessors such as Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schroeder followed this policy and did exalt Germany's international status in many aspects.
Schroeder even bid for a permanent seat for his country in the UN Security Council.
With this ultimate goal in mind, the Merkel government took over their mantle by mediating hot global crises such as the Iranian nuclear program.
Merkel has not as vigorously applied for a UN Security Council permanent seat as Schroeder, but observers say that her government has adopted a different but smarter technique: to work hand-in-hand with permanent members of the UN Security Council in global issues so as to pave a smooth way for gaining a place in the council.
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)