German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and Martin Schulz’s SPD have Friday achieved a breakthrough in their exploratory talks aimed at forming a new coalition government on Friday.
The progress of talks between Germany’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats will probably put an end to months of political uncertainty in Berlin after the 24 September 2017 elections, when no new government was formed and the first round of “Jamaica” coalition talks collapsed. A continuation of the coalition with the SPD is considered the only viable alternative and could help avoid a minority government led by Merkel or snap federal elections.
After overnight talks, the three parties, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the SPD will present the 28-page blueprint to GroKo – Grand Coalition abbreviation in German. According to the German media, the three parties agreed not to raise taxes if they form a governing alliance, and to increase Germany’s input to the EU budget.
As for migration policy, the three parties agreed to would limit the number of refugees entering the country to between 180,000 and 220,000 per year. The three parties cleared the main obstacle at talks, agreeing to limit family reunions for refugees to 1,000 a month.
SPD board approves agreement
Speaking after marathon talks with SPD leader Schulz, Chancellor Merkel said she was now confident that Germany would find “common solutions with France” on taking Europe forward. After September’s elections, questions were raised about Merkel’s future and the long talks undermined her authority.
European Parliament’s former president Schulz, said on Friday that the SPD is “determined to deploy Germany’s full economic and political power to turn Europe once again into the great project that this community of nations is.”
Germany’s second largest party SPD said in a statement on Friday that its 45-member board had overwhelmingly given its blessing to formal coalition negotiations with CDU – CSU. The draft programme, outlining policy goals during Merkel’s fourth term, must now be approved by 600 SPD delegates at a party congress on Jan 21 and then by the party’s more than 400,000 rank and file members.
Juncker endorses preliminary GroKo deal
The European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker endorsed the positive outcome of the talks: “In terms of the substance I’m very happy with what the CDU/CSU and the SPD have agreed,” Juncker said during a news conference in Sofia. “It is a significant, positive, forward-looking contribution to European policy debate in Europe,” he added.