Angela Merkel's party reaches breakthrough in German coalition talks


Participants have described the negotiations as "good", but SPD leaders need to convince their party members as they are offering them a vote on January 21 on whether to proceed.

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.

"We Social Democrats, in our [leadership] committee, decided unanimously to the party congress giving the party leadership a mandate to pursue coalition negotiations to form a government", Schulz said on Friday.

"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.

In their joint blueprint, the parties agreed on key policy outlines - to join European Union partner France in a push to "strengthen and reform" the eurozone, to limit the influx of asylum seekers to Germany to around 200,000 a year, and to refrain from tax hikes given the healthy state of state coffers.

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.

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The most important points in the agreement between Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats include a promise not to increase taxes, some flexibility on reaching a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, and a willingness to work with France on steps to fix chronic flaws in the shared euro currency.

"Germans have been waiting more than 100 days for a government and they've had enough", thundered the Bild tabloid, asking Dr Merkel: "Where is your plan?"

Still, had this week's talks failed, Merkel's only options would have been to form a minority government or hold new elections.

The development will come as a relief for Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union / Christian Social Union alliance, which remains the country's largest party but was left weakened following a disastrous showing in September elections. And Thursday may be the last chance for Chancellor Angela Merkel to strike a deal or face the prospect of a new election.

Angela Merkel's conservatives reach preliminary deal with Social Democrats.

They also agreed on turning the ESM bailout mechanism into a full-blown European Monetary Fund under parliamentary control and anchored in EU law.

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But party leaders were in a buoyant mood on Friday morning.

Among the stumbling blocks that hampered the talks was the issue of migrant family reunifications.

She struck a deal to open government coalition talks, easing months of uncertainty that has undermined Germany's global role and raised questions about her political future.

"Although I have to say, with the the exception of a small group of people around the president - and the president himself - the rest of Washington seems to by trying desperately to maintain relations with Europe and Germany on an even keel", he said.

They also welcomed the parties' clear commitment to the EU.

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

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