Merkel pledges 'fresh start' for Europe with new government

Acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government at the SPD headquarters in Berlin Germany

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Politicians stayed up all night thrashing out a deal, with the talks lasting more than 24 hours. "I think we produced excellent results".

The paper came out on Friday morning after the week-long exploratory talks between the SPD, the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister Christian Social Union.

"We are working seriously. on creating the conditions to be able to live well in Germany in 10 or 15 years", she said.

The common European foreign and security policy must be strengthened in the sense of a peace power Europe, says the document, calling for strengthened cooperation in security and defense policy (PESCO) and bringing it to life.

Weakened by an election setback in September, Mrs Merkel turned to the left-leaning SPD to renew their grand coalition after the collapse in November of talks on a three-way coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP).

"If we succeed, these could be four very, very good years - I am already speaking of these years because I believe we will succeed", he said.

According to a coalition paper leaked to German press on Friday morning, the new government would be prepared to make higher contributions to the European Union budget, as well as support "funds for economic convergence and social convergence and support of structural reforms that can be starting point for future investment budget for eurozone".

The euro jumped to a three-year high against the USA dollar after the deal was announced, reflecting the relief of analysts and the perceived importance of German leadership to the European economy.

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Merkel has ruled with the SPD in a sometimes unwieldy "grand coalition" - or "GroKo", the German-language acronym - in two of her three previous terms in office, including in the last parliament from 2013-2017.

Germany has been in political limbo since a September 24 election in which Merkel failed to win a clear majority - in part due to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) which took millions of votes from all major parties. There still remains much resistance to it within the party's membership, however.

The three coalition parties' support dropped by a cumulative total of almost 14 percentage points in the election.

Strengn cohesion with Europe to play an active role in strengning European integration.

Merkel now leads a caretaker government, limiting her ability to take major policy initiatives as French President Emmanuel Macron pushes an ambitious European reform agenda.

In the document, the German parties called for "a new awakening for Europe" and pledged to work closely with France to achieve this, but remained vague on the details. "But we carried out the talks in spirit of finding a solution".

The Christian Social Union is said to have secured an initial 1,000-a-month cap on visas allowing families to follow one category of refugees to Germany, a cap of 180,000 to 220,000 a year on the total number of refugees allowed to enter, and a promise that income taxes would not be raised.

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