Germany's coalition talks improve on agreement on energy, wrangle

Germany's coalition talks improve on agreement on energy, wrangle

The parties missed a self-imposed Sunday deadline to clinch a deal on renewing the coalition that has governed Europe's largest economy since 2013.

Germany's effort to put together a governing coalition after its September 24 election is already its longest since the Second World War.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) will continue negotiations on forming a government on Monday (Feb 5) because they still have differences on some issues, a senior SPD member said.

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, Angela Merkel, gives a talk during a regional party conference in her home state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, in her first major speech since the collapse of coalition talks, on November 25, 2017 in Kuehlungsborn, northern Germany.

The SPD somewhat reluctantly agreed late in 2018 to hold coalition talks with Merkel's conservative alliance after her attempt to form a coalition government with two other parties, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Green party, failed.

"The coalition treaty is slowly taking shape but we'll only be able to say with more certainty tomorrow whether it will come to a conclusion", he said.

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The two main points of contention between the two sides concern health care and labor policy. However, with the devil in the details, they have again clashed on divisive policies - especially SPD demands to shift temporary workers to permanent contracts, and to make Germany's health insurance system fairer.

"So, in the end, we must take the time that we need to create such a stable foundation".

"I don't think Mrs Merkel can explain why there can't be any movement there", she said as she arrived for talks.

Thomas Strobl, a Conservative negotiator said: "My expectation is that it will go well".

But the two were still wrangling over its meaning on Saturday, with Joachim Herrmann - a member of Merkel's CSU Bavarian allies who have called for an upper limit - telling Rheinische Post his party had secured a migrant cap.

Failure to reach an agreement, or a deal's rejection by Social Democrat members, would leave a minority government under Merkel or a new election as the only viable governing options.

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