BERLIN (Reuters) – The leaders of three German parties were set on Wednesday to present a deal to form a coalition government that will see Social Democrat Olaf Scholz replace conservative Angela Merkel as chancellor.
A news conference was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon following a final round of talks between the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the ecologist Greens and the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP).
The three parties want a greener, more socially Germany that declutters the state to invest in modernising the country. They are also pro-European and want to promote multilateral cooperation.
Here are some of the main policy goals of the three parties, which set out their priorities in a draft agreement last month.
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The parties want to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within 20 years. As part of their plans, the three parties have agreed to commit to a coal phase-out by 2030 in their coalition deal, sources involved in the talks told Reuters on Tuesday https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/exclusive-germanys-government-in-waiting-agrees-phase-out-coal-by-2030-sources-2021-11-23. However, the Greens have scrapped their plans for a universal speed limit on Germany’s “no limits” motorways, an idea that had little popularity among the FDP.
The most pressing issue the new government faces is a fourth wave of COVID-19. The leaders of the three parties, who met Merkel on Tuesday evening, are facing growing pressure from within Scholz’s SPD to counter the wave with mandatory vaccinations – a question they are still grappling with.
The parties want Germany’s foreign policy to focus on strengthening Europe, including through cooperation with France and Poland, as well as multilateral relations with partners that share Germany’s democratic values.
The transatlantic alliance between the United States and its European partners is a central pillar of global cooperation, and NATO is an indispensable part of Germany’s security, they say.
One outstanding question, however, is whether Berlin will remain part of NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement under the new government, or drop out and ask the United States to remove its nuclear bombs from German soil.
The parties have said they will not increase income taxes, corporate taxes or value added tax. Instead, “super write-offs” for investments in climate protection and digitalisation will boost the economy.
The new coalition partners want to make the 2020s a decade of investment in the future — to fight the effects of climate change and make progress on digitalisation, education, research and infrastructure.
They want to reduce red tape for public and private investment projects, with the aim of at least halving the time it takes to implement them.
However, they also want to stick to Germany’s debt brake, which limits new borrowing to a tiny fraction of economic output.
Instead, they say, the government should do away with any subsidies and spending that are unnecessary, ineffective, or harmful to the environment and step up the fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering. It would also continue to push for the introduction of a global minimum corporate tax.
The parties have indicated they would raise the minimum wage to 12 euros ($14) an hour in the government’s first year in office.
The have also aligned on their aim to build 400,000 new apartments a year to fight a housing crisis, lower the voting age to 16 and create a points-based immigration system to draw in qualified workers.
Also promised are adaptations to laws on transgender, family and reproductive rights, in line with the wishes of younger voters who backed the FDP and Greens.
All three parties seem to have stuck to their promise to allow dual citizenship – a huge change for thousands of ethnic Turks, many of whom remain foreign nationals after decades in Germany.
(Compiled by Berlin newsroom, editing by Timothy Heritage)
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