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Germany's SPD Leader Backs Talks with Merkel on Political Impasse

02 December 2017

The SPD, which had wanted to go into opposition to rebuild after suffering its worst post-World War Two election result, fears its distinctive identity and policy ideas will again be smothered in any tie-up with Merkel's bigger center-right bloc.

Speaking at a news conference after a key party executive meeting in Berlin, Martin Schulz sharply criticized Christian Democrats for leaking information to the media, after a crisis summit hosted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday.

According to Schulz, the key demands of his party are a need to reform the European Union, improve healthcare, as well as the European Union and answer French President Emmanuel Macron's Eurozone reform proposals positively.

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But it came under pressure to relent and head off fresh elections after Merkel's bid to form a coalition with the ecologist Greens and pro-business FDP fell apart last month.

Firmly denying that an agreement had been reached on opening negotiations on a grand right-left coalition, Schulz said that all options remained on the table. "This is simply wrong", Schulz said, adding that the report appeared to be based on sources within Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc.

At the same time, the SPD chief began naming his conditions, stressing in particular that he wants Germany to back French President Emmanuel Macron's initiative to reform the European Union.

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Mr Schulz and Mrs Merkel met on Thursday night to discuss a possible new coalition or SPD support for a minority government, and initial reports suggested the talks had gone well.

"There was a broad consensus about not closing down any options concerning the formation of a new government", Schulz told reporters. French President Emmanuel Macron has offered some important ideas: a European finance minister; Eurobonds to finance a new European investment program; more emphasis on innovation; a financial transactions tax to fund increased aid to Africa, where Europe has a strategic interest in long-term development; and tax harmonization more generally, before the US triggers a global race to the bottom on taxing corporations and the rich.

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Germany's SPD Leader Backs Talks with Merkel on Political Impasse