Merkel Makes Euro Policy a PriorityBy and
Chancellor begins four-party talks on potential coalition pact
Warns EU allies that she’ll have to run euro policy by FDP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel set out a road map for four-party talks to form her next government, while telling European allies that major euro-area decisions will require approval by her potential coalition partners.
Negotiators from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, her Bavarian CSU sister party, the pro-market Free Democrats and Greens signaled a willingness to move forward after concluding their first round-table meeting late Friday. European policy will be on the agenda when talks resume on Tuesday.
“In particular, we will discuss the future of the economic and currency union very intensively,” Merkel told reporters earlier Friday in Brussels after a European Union summit. “We will need agreement from potential coalition partners on decisions that have to be made eventually” on the euro, she said.
A decline in support for the CDU-CSU in Germany’s election on Sept. 24 is forcing Merkel to seek out a coalition for her fourth term that’s never been tried at the national level. She’ll have to mesh divergent views among the three smaller parties on everything from energy and immigration to Europe, where the FDP is taking a tough line on euro-area bailouts and deficits.
While Merkel’s party says it’s aiming for a deal by Christmas, the chancellor said Friday she can’t predict when Europe’s biggest economy will have its next government. Merkel and CSU leaders, who agreed after the election to set aside a conflict over refugee policy, met in Berlin on Saturday to align strategy.
Coalition talks will focus first on the federal budget and European policy, with topics such as climate, energy and immigration to come later, CSU general secretary Andreas Scheuer said in Berlin after Friday’s talks. Coalition talks are scheduled through Nov. 2 for now, thought there’s no constitutional deadline for forming a new government after an election.
Getting to Work
Participants said that while big conflicts were avoided, many differences would need to be overcome. “There are topics where there are huge differences, for example immigration,” Scheuer said.
Merkel, arriving straight from the EU summit, said creative solutions will be required.
“I have the impression from preliminary talks that there’s also a willingness to find common ground,” she said. “Now let’s get to work.”