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Merkel pledges 'fresh start' for Europe with new government

La chancelière allemande Angela Merkel arrive au siège du SPD pour des discussions avec les sociaux-démocrates, le 11 janvier 2018 à Berlin
John MACDOUGALL (AFP)
Decision made after more than 24 hours of negotiations between conservatives and the Social Democrats

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Friday that the new government she is seeking to form would work toward a "fresh start" for Europe, after reporting a breakthrough in marathon coalition talks.

"The world is not waiting for us -- we need a fresh start in Europe," she said at the end of more than 24 hours of negotiations between her conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD).

"A fresh start for Europe is also a fresh start for Germany."

Although Merkel's Christian Democrats differ with many of French President Emmanuel Macron's proposals for sweeping reforms of the European Union, Merkel expressed hope they would hammer out compromises to address major challenges facing the bloc.

"We will find solutions with France," she said.  

The coalition blueprint includes a pledge to, "in close partnership with France, sustainably strengthen and reform the eurozone so that the euro can better withstand global crises".

After the parties cleared obstacles on immigration and taxes, Merkel said she was "optimistic" they could seal a deal on a "stable" right-left "grand coalition" government.

SPD leader Martin Schulz said that his party's negotiators had agreed "unanimously" to recommend to the rank-and-file to back the draft coalition agreement and launch final negotiations on forming a government.

"I think we achieved an excellent result," Schulz said.

"The negotiations were long, tough, exciting and turbulent."

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