German coalition talks to continue as talks progress

BERLIN – German politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) are expected to present a workable coalition deal on Thursday that will end five months of political…

German coalition talks to continue as talks progress

BERLIN – German politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) are expected to present a workable coalition deal on Thursday that will end five months of political uncertainty, clearing the way for Merkel to stay on as chancellor after 2021.

The deal comes with some caveats, in a reflection of unresolved differences over migration and the reform of Europe’s economic and monetary union.

The main obstacles have been a shortage of common ground between conservatives and the SPD on migration and on expanding the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a joint bailout fund used for crisis loans to the euro zone.

On Friday, Christian von Stetten, deputy chief of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said ministers from both parties would have to make every effort to reach an agreement.

“It’s not that everything is agreed,” von Stetten said at a security conference in Germany, adding: “There are still differences on migration that the chancellor won’t be willing to live with.”

The SPD is pushing for a renewal of the European Stability Mechanism as one way to bind together a three-way coalition.

But Merkel is unlikely to budge on the issue, given her skeptical stance on European integration. She has set a cap on the number of refugees Germany accepts each year at 200,000.

She has also pushed for other euro zone countries to boost spending and make deeper structural reforms.

Progress on that front is unlikely.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has made reviving Europe a priority, but Merkel has set less ambitious targets and has made clear that such efforts will depend on the political evolution of the EU and a solid budget and deficit under the Maastricht Treaty.

A two-year old coalition government between Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the SPD collapsed in February after the SPD accused her of watering down a previous deal on pensions.

With elections looming in September, politicians are keen to avoid a repeat of the messy coalition that was the only way out of a slew of regional and local election defeats in the previous year.

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