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Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Agreement reached on basis for German coalition talks

Agreement reached on basis for German coalition talks

German politicians have achieved a breakthrough in talks aimed at forming a new coalition government, the BBC News reported on Friday.

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".

Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democrat Party at a news conference following 24 hours of talks to end almost four months of political deadlock.

But after winning an election with a reduced majority in September, she agreed to a soft cap on Germany's refugee intake in a bid to silence bitter squabbling within her conservative camp.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany capitalised on voter anger over the issue to score 12.6% in the general election, a record for a far-right party in the post-war period.

The draft programme, outlining policy goals during Dr 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.

Among other things, the Social Democrats' leaders will still have to sell entering coalition talks to a party conference, and face much resistance. But to make a new government a reality, he must first persuade a party congress January 21 to agree to hold formal coalition negotiations.

However, the Social Democrats have more leverage this time round.

Horst Seehofer, head of the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats, said a government could be in place by Easter - March or April.

They pledged to fight tax dumping and evasion in Europe, pushing for "fair taxation of big companies" including the 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.

Though most European economies - and the euro - have been in good shape in recent months, the lack of German leadership was threatening to affect Brexit and stall the push for European Union reform, led most vocally by French president Emmanuel Macron.

Ms. Merkel used her statement to talk about the many technical solutions included in the agreement. "The coalition document is a new start for Europe".

At the EU level, the prospective deal was welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria.

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. Another lawmaker, Frank Schwabe, described the deal on migrant's relatives as "shabby".

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