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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Merkel confident on EU with new German govt

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Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the need for a "new awakening" for Europe and says she's confident a new German government will be able to reach agreement with France on the future of the European Union. Germany's election was more than three months ago and Merkel currently leads a caretaker government, limiting her ability to take major policy initiatives as French President Emmanuel Macron pushes an ambitious European reform agenda.

Merkel said Friday it's been clear since the election that the world doesn't stop while Germany resolves its political future. She said the agreement between her conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats to move to formal coalition negotiations involved "give and take" on both sides. The leader of Germany's Social Democrats says an agreement reached with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on the basis for coalition negotiations is an "outstanding" result on policies that will help the country.

Martin Schulz told reporters after an overnight negotiating session that the agreement will help Germany's infrastructure and strengthen families, schools, retirement homes and other parts of society. He says: "I think we have achieved outstanding results." Schulz says he'll now take the agreement to his party members for the approval needed before formal coalition negotiations can begin."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats have agreed upon a 28-page paper outlining the basis for moving ahead with formal coalition talks. Lawmaker Julia Kloeckner, part of the negotiating team for Merkel's Christian Democrats, tweeted a photo of the cover of the document Friday morning.She says "many, many hours of work, serious wrangling and shaping are contained in these 28 pages."

The result came after a more than 24-hour session, which capped a week of negotiations. Dorothee Baer, of the CDU's Bavarian-only sister Christian Social Union, tweeted a photo of the agreement's cover page in her hand just before 9 a.m., saying "still quite warm."

Details were expected to be released later in the morning. Leaders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats have reportedly agreed on the basis to move ahead with coalition negotiations after marathon overnight talks.

The dpa news agency and other German media, citing talks participants, reported Friday that the party leaders were preparing to recommend formal coalition negotiations after hashing out compromises on wide-ranging issues.

-AP, Berlin

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