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emfizz.com January 20, 2018


Breakthrough in German government coalition talks

13 January 2018, 05:08 | Terri Saunders

Breakthrough in German government coalition talks

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her conservatives still had high hurdles to clear in Thursday's talks on forming a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), who are pressing for accelerated integration of European Union states.

The deal eased months of uncertainty that has undermined Germany's role as the European Union's pivotal power, as the bloc confronts such major challenges as Brexit, euro-zone reform and immigration, and questions about Merkel's future.

The leaders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the center-left SPD agreed on January 12 on the basis to move ahead with coalition negotiations, after marathon overnight talks.

But both parties bled support in the September 24 election, which saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) enter the Bundestag lower house of parliament for the first time.

But Social Democrat (SPD) leader Martin Schulz will have to work hard to persuade a party congress on Jan 21 to endorse that move.

"The SPD got its way in many areas", senior SPD lawmaker Hubertus Heil told public broadcaster RBB in what is likely to be the first of many such entreaties to rank-and-file members in the coming week.

That falls short of conservative demands for maintaining a block on such family reunification, but also is more limited than what the Social Democrats sought.

Image Zoom
Image Zoom

Weakened by an election setback in September, Merkel turned to the left-leaning SPD to renew their grand coalition after the collapse in November of talks on a three-way coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP).

The parties pledged to fight tax dumping and evasion in Europe, pushing for "fair taxation of big companies" including internet giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, and called for unspecified minimum rates for corporate tax. The main policy points they've agreed on are: strengthening and reforming the 19-member euro zone (including paying more into the European Union budget); capping refugee intake to 200,000 per year; and not increasing taxes.

But as hopelessness in the early hours of Friday gave way to cautious optimism in the morning, the steepness of the climb ahead remained evident: All three leaders must now secure the support of their party hierarchies.

".in close partnership with France, we want to sustainably strengthen and reform the Eurozone so that the euro can better withstand global crises", the paper reads.

"We have, in what feels like a long time since the election, seen that the world will not wait for us", Merkel said.

On some polling, around half of SPD supporters oppose a new grand coalition. "It is a significant, positive, forward-looking contribution to European policy debate in Europe", he added. When the agreement was announced, Kevin Kühnert, who heads the Social Democrats' influential youth wing, responded with a punning Twitter post likening the breakthrough in talks to appendicitis. Another lawmaker, Frank Schwabe, described the deal on migrant's relatives as "shabby".

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