German coalition draft suggests no steps for Turkey's European Union bid

German Chancellor and leader of German Christian Democratic Union Angela Merkel speaks before the exploratory talks for a new coalition governme

The leaders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the center-left SPD agreed on January 12 on the basis to move ahead with coalition negotiations, after marathon overnight talks.

The preliminary deal means the parties can start negotiations on the next coalition government. Still, a ballot of his party's entire membership is required to bless the coalition agreement. "I think we produced excellent results".

Dr Merkel wants to conclude negotiations on forming a coalition government by mid-February, a source in her conservative party said on Friday (Jan 12).

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".

About 500 refugees, a lot of them from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea, live in container homes at refugee housing Am Aschenland in Neugraben, in the outskirts of Hamburg, northern Germany.

"Together, we are determined to use Germany's strength, both economically and politically, to make Europe a grand project again", said Martin Schulz, leader of the SPD, at a news conference with Merkel after the marathon talks.

The chancellor is under pressure to succeed after her attempt to patch together a coalition with the Green party and the pro-market Free Democrats failed in November.

"This deal is important for the stability and future of Franco-German relations, but especially Europe", said French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

Leader of German Social Democratic Party Martin Schulz
EYEVINE XINHUA NEWS AGENCYLeader of German Social Democratic Party Martin Schulz

The three coalition parties' support dropped by a cumulative total of almost 14 percentage points in the election.

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 AfD surged into third place in September's election, the first time in decades that a far-right, openly nationalist party had won seats in Germany's federal parliament.

Pledges to spend more in poorer regions and allow up to 1,000 family members each month to join refugees already living in Germany also seemed created to placate SPD members distrustful of governing with Merkel again.

Christian Democrat and Social Democrat leaders also agreed to lower the tax surcharge introduced to fund the reunification of east and west Germany by €10bn (£9bn) by 2021.

Prominent Social Democrat opponents of a new "grand coalition" of Germany's biggest parties weren't placated by Friday's deal and vowed to keep fighting it.

Merkel now leads a caretaker government, limiting her ability to take major policy initiatives as French President Emmanuel Macron pushes an ambitious European reform agenda.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called it a "very significant [and] positive.contribution to the European debate". The coalition paper foresees the new government drawing up a timetable for phasing out coal power by the end of this year.

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