Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Germany's Merkel makes breakthrough in coalition talks

Germany Hints At Solidarity Tax Cut Germany's Merkel makes breakthrough in coalition talks
Kristine Garrett | 13 January, 2018, 05:10

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats pledged today to work closely with France to strengthen the euro zone, in Berlin's first substantive response to President Emmanuel Macron's ambitious European Union reform proposals.

A blueprint for formal negotiations was agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their former coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).

The German parties' glacial place in setting up a new administration is testing the patience of voters who gave Merkel's Christian Democratic-led bloc the most votes in the September 24 contest.

After waiting since September for a response from Berlin, Paris welcomed Friday's paper as "important for the stability and future of Franco-German relations, but especially Europe".

"And as far as Europe is concerned, we are convinced that we need a new awakening for Europe", she added.

The two parties also stress Europe's role in peace and global responsibility in the document, clearly rejecting protectionism, isolationism and nationalism and calling for more worldwide cooperation.

CSU chief Horst Seehofer said he was "highly satisfied" with the outcomes.

Focus on causes of migration and not only on migrants mselves.

Limit to 1,000 number of refugees who will be able to join ir family living in Germany.

Christian Democratic lawmakers greeted their leader with a round of applause when she outlined the arrangement, which pledged closer cooperation with France to strengthen the euro zone and a crackdown on arms sales to countries in conflict zones.

Strengthen European Parliament and boost European Union's finances - Germany would be prepared to pay more into the EU budget.

Pledges to spend more in poorer regions and allow up to 1,000 family members each month to join refugees already living in Germany also seemed created to placate SPD members distrustful of governing with Merkel again.

But that will likely depend on whether she can build on the policy document agreed today over the coming months and forge what would be her third "grand coalition" with the SPD.

SPD leader Martin Schulz said that his party's negotiators had agreed "unanimously" to recommend to the rank-and-file to back the draft coalition agreement and launch final negotiations on forming a government.

"The agreement between Merkel and Schulz forms the basis for a new coalition government in Germany".

The latest negotiations come more than three months after national elections saw large losses for the CDU, CSU, and SPD that together had been governing as a "grand coalition" since 2013.

The mass influx drove the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party which scored nearly 13 percent in September elections.

The latest week-long exploratory talks took place after the failure of a previous round of tri-party discussions end of November.

Mr. Schulz, who had expressly wished for a role in the opposition after the party's two stints as junior coalition partner, must now travel the country to convince his rank and file that rejoining the government will be good for both the country and the party.

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