Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

France's Macron welcomes Merkel's deal with Social Democrats, says good for Europe

France's Macron welcomes Merkel's deal with Social Democrats, says good for Europe

The marathon negotiation session, which went on for almost 24 hours, was the final round in six days of preliminary talks among Merkel of the center-right Christian Democrats; Horst Seehofer of their conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union; and Martin Schulz of the center-left Social Democrats - the three parties that have governed Germany together in a "grand coalition" since late 2013.

Later, all SPD members will be asked to vote on whether they are happy for their party to enter a grand coalition on the basis of outcome of negoations.

Social Democrat spokesman Serkan Agci told reporters outside his party's headquarters, where the talks took place, that there had been a "breakthrough" agreed upon by the party leaders but said final revisions were still being made on the document by negotiating teams, which would also need approval.

He said his party was committed to ensuring that the new government for Europe's top economy committed "above all to working toward renewal of the European Union".

If the SPD enters the government, she said, it will be handing the main opposition role in parliament to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The immigration of refugees should not exceed 180,000 to 220,000 people per year, no tax increases are planned, and the family reunion for refugees should be possible in the future "only for humanitarian reasons" and limited to 1,000 cases per month. According to an opinion poll published this week and reported by BBC, 54% of the Germans want the "grand coalition" to go ahead, while one in three believe it won't stick.

However, the SPD is still facing strong opposition of a renewed grand coalition, especially from its grassroots and youth members, who are anxious about the further marginalization of the party in its cooperation with the Union.

Last night's exploratory talks dragged on nearly 24 hours because of disagreements on refugee policy and reform of the tax, pension and health systems.

Even if SPD delegates do back the coalition agreement, negotiations on forming a government could still fail. Berlin's partners are eagerly awaiting a new government to help drive forward Brexit talks, euro zone reform and European Union diplomatic initiatives.


German bond yields hit fresh five-month highs on Friday and the euro hit a three-year high as coalition progress in Germany added to a bond sell-off first triggered by the possibility of a European Central Bank rethink on policy messaging.

September's inconclusive elections left Merkel without a majority and struggling to find partners to govern Europe's biggest economy.

The party's leaders are all too familiar with each other.

"If that doesn t happen, then Martin Schulz will have great difficulties.to convince party members of the necessity of this grand coalition", he said.

"Those who bear responsibility in the institutions and parties. know that they have this responsibility not only towards the members of their own party and their own political future".

Talks focused mainly on differences over tax and migration. Chancellor Merkel has outright rejected the idea.

The SPD want to improve the rights of workers and scrap Germany's dual healthcare system of premium private care and more widely accessible public care, replacing it with a single "citizen's insurance".

"In the interest of her party's electoral strength, she should not stay in office for the entire legislative term".

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