The Latest: Macron says German political deal ‘encouraging’

January 12, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to a statement of Social Democratic Party Chairman Martin Schulz, right, after the exploratory talks between Merkel's Christian Democratic block and the Social Democrats on forming a new German government in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on talks to form a government in Germany (all times local):

5:05 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the preliminary agreement to form a government coalition in Germany is an “encouraging” signal for Europe.

Macron said in a news conference in Paris on Friday that it’s “too soon to draw definitive conclusions.” But he stressed the terms of the agreement are “better for the European project” than previous attempts to reach an agreement at the end of 2017.

He said: “I’m pleased with these steps forward.”

Pro-European Macron said he sees in this agreement “the mark of a very favorable progress on the European subjects I’m advocating for.”


2 p.m.

The nation that holds the rotating European Union presidency has welcomed the tentative deal to form a grand coalition in Germany and said Chancellor Angela Merkel would be the key player in all major upcoming decisions.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told reporters he hoped the final details would be settled soon and “that this process will come to an end soon because it will be for the benefit of all.”

Borissov’s comments reflect the growing unease among Germany’s EU partners as the coalition talks dragged on for months.

Borissov will be dealing with numerous political issues during his six months in charge, ranging from migrants to Poland’s fight with the European Commission.

He said that “all the topics that we raise also depend on the cooperation with Chancellor Merkel ... We are waiting for this quite impatiently.”


1:40 p.m.

The French government is welcoming the “good news” from Germany, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz announced a preliminary agreement on a new coalition government.

Following a Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said this agreement, if definitively endorsed by the Social Democrats at a party congress on Jan.21, is “good for Germany, good for France and good for Europe.”

He praised an “important element for Europe’s stability and future”, especially in upcoming EU discussions regarding migration, economy and financial issues.


1:10 p.m.

The European Commission president has warmly welcomed the coalition agreement in Germany and indicated that after months of delay it would offer the bloc the spur to move faster in building cooperation.

Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Sofia, Bulgaria, that the European part of the deal was “a significant, positive, constructive future-looking contribution to the European policy.”

“I am quite satisfied,” he said.

If the finishing touches come together on the grand coalition of Christian Democrats and Socialists, it will finally allow Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to cooperate without the immediate impediment of domestic politics.


1:00 p.m.

The preliminary agreement on a new coalition government in Germany sent markets and the euro higher, but one analyst says it could mean the next government avoids longer-term reforms to preserve the country’s strong economic performance.

Holger Schmieding at Berenberg says that success under Chancellor Angela Merkel has bred “complacency” and that the deal “continues the trend away from pro-growth reforms that has been clearly visible in Merkel’s previous term already.”

Schmieding pointed to added social benefits that Merkel had agreed to in order to get the center-left Social Democrats to potentially renew their current coalition.


12:50 p.m.

The potential deal on a new government in Germany raises the chance for limited cooperation with French President Emmanuel Macron on steps to fix flaws in the euro currency union and to make it more robust against crises.

The joint document that emerged from preliminary coalition talks includes a call to “sustainably strengthen and reform the eurozone in close partnership with France.”

It also mentions investment spending in the next multi-year EU budget that “could be the point of departure for a future investment budget for the eurozone.” The euro’s lack of a central fiscal pot to even out recessions has been discussed as one its weaknesses. But Germany has so far resisted even limited proposals for fear of creating permanent transfers from its taxpayers to more troubled countries.


11:50 a.m.

The euro has jumped to a three-year high on news of progress in talks to create a new German coalition government.

It rose as far as $1.2138 on Friday, the highest since early 2015, and by midmorning in Europe was up 0.8 percent at $1.2125.

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.

The result came after a more than 24-hour session, which capped a week of negotiations.

Details were expected to be released later in the morning.


11:25 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she’s “optimistic” about the possibility of forming a new coalition government with the Social Democrats after reaching agreement on the basis for talks.

The center-left Social Democrats still need approval from their membership to open the talks, and then will have to vote on any agreement that is reached.

Despite these hurdles, Merkel — obviously tired after a marathon overnight negotiation session — said she was “optimistic that things will move forward” to forming a new coalition government.

Horst Seehofer, leader of Merkel’s Bavarian sister Christian Social Union party, said if the Social Democrats give the green light, an agreement may be able to be reached before Easter.


11:10 a.m.

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.


11:05 a.m.

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.”


9:30 a.m.

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.


9:10 a.m.

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.

The Social Democrats’ leaders will still have to sell the coalition to their membership, and face much resistance. But if the talks had failed Merkel’s only options remaining would have been to form a minority government or hold new elections.

The Social Democrats had initially ruled out another coalition with Merkel after poor results in the Sept. 24 election, but reconsidered after her talks with two other parties failed.

Update hourly