BERLIN (Reuters) -Three German parties reached an agreement on Wednesday to form a new coalition government that will see Social Democrat Olaf Scholz replace conservative Angela Merkel as chancellor.
Here are some of the main policy points that the parties — the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the ecologist Greens and the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) — set out in the 177-page coalition agreement, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
The parties agreed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest and to make the expansion of renewable energies a central project of their work.
Sticking to Germany’s plan to phase out nuclear power, they also aim to accelerate the exit from coal. “Ideally, this should be achieved by 2030,” the coalition agreement said.
They committed to a faster roll-out of carbon-free power capacity, more ambitious carbon emissions prices to provide an incentive for a quick exit from fossil fuels, and more aggressive support for a hydrogen economy.
They also want at least 15 million fully electric passenger cars by 2030 and have agreed to increase rail freight transport by 25% by 2030.
The most pressing issue the new government faces is a fourth wave of COVID-19 and the leaders of the three parties are under pressure from within Scholz’s SPD to counter the wave with mandatory vaccinations – a question they are still grappling with.
Scholz said he backed compulsory vaccinations for targeted groups.
In the coalition deal, they agreed to support further research and needs-based care around the long-term effects of COVID-19 as well as for chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) by creating a network of centres of excellence and clinics.
They also outlined plans to cut drug prices retroactively for newly launched prescription drugs to keep healthcare expenses under control.
The parties said they were committed to a European Union that protects and stands up for its values and the rule of law, “both internally and externally.”
“As the largest member state, we will assume our special responsibility” with an understanding for the EU as a whole, said the coalition deal. The parties also want to strengthen the European Parliament.
The Greens will have the right to nominate the country’s European Commissioner if the Commission’s president is not from Germany.
The parties want to strengthen the EU’s economic and monetary union and signalled an openness to reform the bloc’s fiscal rules, the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP).
“The Stability and Growth Pact has shown its flexibility. On this basis, we want to ensure growth, maintain debt sustainability and ensure sustainable and climate-friendly investments,” the coalition agreement said.
“The further development of the fiscal policy rules should be based on these goals in order to strengthen their effectiveness in the face of the challenges of the time. The SGP should become simpler and more transparent, also in order to strengthen its enforcement,” the deal said.
The coalition parties agreed to support an EU deposit insurance scheme to complete banking union as part of a wider package of measures and said that scheme would depend on the further reduction of risks in banks’ balance sheets.
On Brexit, they said Britain UK must stick to the deal with the EU, especially arrangements on Northern Ireland, or face measures.
Acknowledging Germany’s global responsibility as the world’s fourth largest economy, the parties said: “We accept it and in our foreign, security and development policy we will deepen and reestablish partnerships and defend our values of freedom, democracy and human rights. To this end, we seek close cooperation with our democratic partners.”
The coalition parties said they would seek cooperation with China wherever possible, on the basis of human rights and international law.
They said they were ready for a constructive dialogue with Russia, adding: “We will take into account different threat perceptions and focus on a common and coherent EU policy towards Russia.”
Germany will remain part of NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement under the new government, the coalition deal said.
“We want Germany…to fulfil its commitments to NATO,” the document said. “As long as nuclear weapons play a role in NATO’s strategic concept, Germany has an interest to participate in strategic discussions and planning processes.”
The three parties aim to increase public investment in green technology and digitalisation while returning to strict debt limits from 2023 onwards.
The coalition agreement says they want fair taxation and will fight tax evasion, and a minimum wage of 12 euros an hour, equivalent to a pay rise for around 10 million people.
The parties have agreed that the FDP will be in charge of the finance ministry.
The parties agreed to make multiple citizenship possible and simplify the process of acquiring German nationality.
“As a rule, naturalization should be possible after five years, with special integration achievements after three years,” the coalition deal said.
(Compiled by Berlin newsroom, editing by Timothy Heritage)