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Germany's Social Democratic Party board approves Merkel coalition deal

13 January 2018

In the 28-page document reached by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Union Party and the SPD led by Martin Schulz, the two parties say they support specific budgetary resources for economic stabilization and social convergence and support for structural reforms in the euro area, which may be the starting point for a future investment budget for the euro area.

The draft deal still has to be approved by SPD delegates at a congress planned for January 21.

There were also compromises on tax and employer-funded health insurance, and a plan to push for greater financial European Union integration.

"This is good news for Europe", Gentiloni said in a series of tweets.

In return, reports indicated that the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's CDU had succeeded in its goal to limit the number of family members who can be reunited with refugees that have been granted asylum in Germany.

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.

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Dr Merkel's conservatives had said they want to have a government in place by the end of March.

Merkel defended the deal, saying it sets the stage for ensuring Germany's prosperity for the next 10 to 15 years and for the "relaunch of Europe" in partnership with France.

Social Democrats spokesman Serkan Agci said there had been a "breakthrough" agreed by party leaders but said final revisions were still being made on the document by negotiating teams, which would also need approval.

Germany has been in political limbo since a September 24 election in which Merkel failed to win a clear majority - in part due to the rise of the far-right and anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) which took millions of votes from all major parties. Despite the challenges ahead, the news buoyed markets and sent the euro to a three-year high of $1.2138.

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

The CDU and the SPD began talks on a grand coalition after negotiations for a so-called Jamaica coalition, between the CDU, the Free Democrats, and the Green Party, collapsed past year.

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The parties agreed to spend more on the European Union - a long way short of Schulz's ambition to create a "United States of Europe" by 2025.

The parties pledged to fight tax dumping and evasion in Europe, pushing for "fair taxation of big companies" including internet giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, and called for unspecified minimum rates for corporate tax.

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. The coalition paper foresees the new government drawing up a timetable for phasing out coal power by the end of this year.

"So I have no worries about us finding common solutions with France", she added.

Merkel voiced relief that the parties had passed a milestone, telling a press conference that "the world is not waiting for us - we need a fresh start in Europe".

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Germany's Social Democratic Party board approves Merkel coalition deal