German coalition parties agree to start negotiations

German coalition parties agree to start negotiations

Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced optimism as she opened talks Sunday with Germany's second biggest party on renewing their alliance, in a new attempt at shaking Europe's biggest economy out of paralysis after September's inconclusive elections, AFP reports.

According to a coalition paper leaked to German press on Friday morning, the new government would be prepared to make higher contributions to the European Union budget, as well as support "funds for economic convergence and social convergence and support of structural reforms that can be starting point for future investment budget for eurozone".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged today that the new government she is seeking to form would work toward a "fresh start" for Europe, after reporting a breakthrough in marathon coalition talks.

Though members of both parties worry that another grand coalition could further erode their support and strengthen fringe parties, they fear new elections even more. The preliminary deal could still be derailed by many still-skeptical SPD members and needs approval at the party's congress on Jan.21.

Instead, her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered its worst result since 1949, including the loss of a million of its voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Kevin Kuehnert, the head of the party's youth wing, criticized "cheap compromises".

Cap at 1,000 a month the number of people who will be allowed to join their family now living as refugees in Germany.

The increase demanded by the SPD of the top tax rate will not come, as no tax increases is stipulated in the policy paper.

"I think we have reached excellent results", said Martin Schulz, SPD leader and ex-European Parliament president.

"It's not inconceivable that Donald Trump could push the USA into a policy position that could cause a break with Europe, but we're pretty far from that - right now", he added.

The first chapter of the document was dedicated to European policies, which stresses the German-Franco initiative in European integration and says Germany wants to develop the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a parliamentary-controlled European Monetary Fund.

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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".

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.

The document acknowledges that Europe must increasingly take its fate into its own hands because of policy shifts in the United States and the challenges of a stronger China and more aggressive Russian Federation. Frank Baasner, director of Ludwigsburg-based think-tank German-French Institute, told Xinhua. "So it's going to be a tough day", she said.

"Although it's often that ambition is very strong and when it comes to details there are huge differences between France and Germany".

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal was "significant" and "positive" for the EU's future, while French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "satisfied and happy" that the deadlock was broken.

Any new elections would not be good for the DAX and the markets in general as this is likely to lead to another round of uncertainty and hence Merkel would be happy to wrap this up this week.

The in-principle pact after months of paralysis averts the unpopular prospect of snap elections for now, but there are still several hurdles to clear, some of which may prove perilous.

Ms. Merkel's only other option is to rule as a minority government, which would mean building coalitions on the fly, behind every new piece of legislation, always worrying about an insurrection.

He said he and 31-year-old Kurz, a conservative who formed a government with the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe) in December, had found common ground during their talks in Paris.

In 2013, when Merkel was seeking the current coalition with the SPD, this process took three weeks.

Every political career ends, and Merkel's finale may be coming faster than just about anyone had predicted. April or May is the earliest a new government could be in place.

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