German Chancellor Angela Merkel is paying tribute to the economic reforms her predecessor launched — and to his campaigning skills that nearly stopped her from winning the top job a decade ago.

Merkel said Tuesday as she presented a biography of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that he "did a service to our country" with the economic reforms and welfare-state trims he launched in 2003. Dubbed Agenda 2010, it was unpopular in Schroeder's center-left party but is widely credited with strengthening the German economy.

Merkel said the reason "that Germany is in such a good position today undoubtedly has its roots in the Agenda 2010 reforms." She added her political differences with the former chancellor don't affect her "esteem for the achievements of the reformer, Gerhard Schroeder."