Thursday

22nd Nov 2018

German stability tested in Schulz-Merkel talks

  • German flag outside the presidential palace in Berlin (Photo: Alexander Johmann)

Germany's centre-left SPD party has said there would be no quick deal on government in the EU's bastion of "stability".

"We first need to look at what the possibilities are, but no one can expect it to go quickly," SPD foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel told the ZDF broadcaster on Thursday (30 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Gabriel (l) said SPD wanted more than 'a few jobs in government' (Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann)

"The conservatives, Greens, and FDP took months to get nothing off ground, so I'd ask people not to put pressure on us," he said.

No one should expect the SPD to make an easy bargain "only to keep a few jobs in government", he added.

His remarks were among the few clues to what happened when SPD head Martin Schulz, chancellor Angela Merkel from the centre-right CDU party, and Horst Seehofer from her sister party, the CSU, met for initial talks in Berlin earlier the same day.

The party leaders left the Schloss Bellevue, the presidential palace, after 135 minutes of discussions without speaking to press.

Stephan Weil, an SPD deputy, had earlier said not to expect a deal before February.

Johannes Kahrs, an SPD member of parliament, told Deutschlandfunk radio on Friday morning that Schulz and Merkel were far apart on European integration and on social welfare.

"We will discuss what the key issues are for us, what substance we want," he said.

Schulz had earlier called for a single eurozone budget and finance minister and an EU-level minimum wage.

He had also called for expensive health care and pension reforms in Germany.

SPD leaders will hold internal talks on Friday at the Willy-Brandt-Haus, the party's HQ, in Berlin, prior to a full party congress on 7 December.

But Peter Altmaier, Merkel's finance minister and right-hand man, responded to the SPD's wariness by saying Germany needed to act swiftly to maintain faith in its stability.

"We're making the case for that because we think one of our trademarks, alongside 'Made in Germany', is 'Stability Made in Germany'," he told ZDF on Thursday.

Altmaier added that German people expected the two sides to make a deal. "Everyone has to live up to that," he said.

A survey out on Friday by pollster Allensbach said 61 percent of Germans and 58 percent of SPD voters wanted the SPD and CDU/CSU to start formal coalition negotiations.

Another survey, by Forsa, said 40 percent of Germans and 36 percent of SPD members wanted them to join up.

Merkel's CDU/CSU party won 246 seats in the Bundestag in elections in September.

But earlier talks with the Greens and the liberal FDP party unravelled, forcing her either to make a deal with the SDP, to rule in a minority government with the Greens, or to trigger new elections.

The SDP won just 153 seats, its worst result in post-WW2 history, following the past four years of joint rule with Merkel.

It had earlier vowed to go into opposition, while Merkel had said she would prefer new elections, but both made a U-turn after an appeal by the German president.

"Only if this attempt [a new SPD coalition] fails do we need to think about other steps - not now," Thomas de Maiziere, the CDU interior minister, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

EU glyphosate vote hits German coalition

Chancellor Merkel disowned her agriculture minister over his decision to back a renewal of the weedkiller's licence as the issue pits Social Democrats against Christian Democrats ahead of coalition talks.

SPD wants EU at heart of German coalition talks

Germany's three mainstream parties have begun their discussions for a new grand coalition, more than three months after the September election which saw them all lose seats.

German coalition deal aims for 'Macron-lite' EU renewal

Merkel and Schulz clear the first hurdle of coalition talks, but the SPD's full membership backing is still needed. The likely coalition parties express support for Macron's eurozone reform ideas, but remain cautious.

News in Brief

  1. UK shell firms at heart of Danske Bank scandal: whistleblower
  2. Google pledges transparency on EU political ads
  3. EU urges Hungary to respect law on Macedonia PM 'asylum'
  4. Bannon's EU campaign illegal in nine countries: report
  5. EU court overturns Austria's anti-migrant law
  6. Kosovo punishes Serbia with trade tariffs in Interpol row
  7. Italy happy to 'confront' EU on budget
  8. Spain threatens Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  9. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  10. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  11. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue

Latest News

  1. Revealed: 98% of EU 'expert groups' take place in private
  2. EU commission warns Italy on budget, moves towards fines
  3. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  4. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  5. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  6. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  7. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  8. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us