German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the final phase of her election campaign with a focus her record, emphasizing the economic growth and prosperity achieved in her dozen years at the helm.

Merkel told a party rally Saturday in the western city of Dortmund that since she was first elected in 2005 unemployment has dropped to a post-reunification low and said she hoped to achieve full employment — a rate below 3 percent — by 2025.

She also highlighted Germany's role in the European Union, saying "strengthening Europe means strengthening Germany."

She told the crowd "for us the greatest security and the greatest peace project is the European Union."

Merkel's conservative bloc currently enjoys a bigger-than 15 percent lead over the main competition Social Democrats ahead of the Sept. 24 vote.