BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) voted decisively for a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives on Sunday, clearing the way for a new government in Europe’s largest economy and ending months of political uncertainty.
Two thirds of the party’s 464,000 members voted “yes” to the deal, meaning Merkel could be sworn in for a fourth term by the middle of the month, in a repeat of the grand coalition that has governed since 2013.
Following is a summary of the main policies the two parties agreed in a draft coalition treaty on Feb. 7:
* Invest 5.95 billion euros in education, research and digitalisation by 2021.
* Invest 12 billion euros in family, child and social measures such as nursery centres and boosting child benefit.
* Invest 4.0 billion euros in building social housing and in tax incentives to encourage home ownership.
* Stick to goal of balanced budget with no new debt.
* Ensure all regions have fast internet by 2025. Expect that to cost up to 12 billion euros in public funds.
* Make Germany more attractive for financial institutions in view of Britain’s looming departure from the European Union.
* Develop a comprehensive blockchain strategy and campaign for a legal framework for trading with cryptocurrencies and tokens at the European and international level.
* Gradually abolish solidarity tax introduced after reunification in 1990 to support poorer eastern states, which currently provides 10 billion euros ($12 billion) of tax relief.
* Support devoting specific budget funds to economic stabilisation, social convergence and structural reform in euro zone. Those funds could form the basis for a future “investment budget” for the euro zone.
* Strengthen and reform euro zone in close partnership with France so that the euro is more resistant to global crises.
* Turn the euro zone bailout fund, called the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), into a European Monetary Fund under parliamentary control, anchored in EU law.
* Strengthen European Parliament and boost European Union finances - Germany would be prepared to pay more into the EU budget.
* Boost investment in Europe.
* Support fair taxation for big companies, especially internet firms such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Companies should no longer be able to play EU states off each other in terms of taxation, and tax dumping must be banned.
* Work to introduce substantial financial transaction tax.
* Boost Franco-German cooperation with projects such as researching artificial intelligence.
* Seek greater cooperation with Poland and intensified dialogue between the two societies, including by supporting youth meetings and youth networks.
* Stabilise pensions at 48 percent of the average wage by 2025 and ensure that contributions do not rise above 20 percent of gross wages.
* From Jan 1. 2019, employers and employees to pay the same contributions to health insurance.
* Set up commission to examine whether a joint fee structure for private and public patients is feasible.
* Further reduce arms exports, tighten arms export guidelines in 2018, and ban sales of assault rifles and other small arms to countries that are not members of the European Union or NATO or have similar status.
* Immediately stop arms exports to countries directly involved in the Yemen conflict, and coordinate similar approach with partners in joint European projects.
* Push for joint European arms export policies.
* Earmark any additional government surplus primarily for defence, development and crisis prevention, with spending to be split equally between military and non-military projects.
* Intensify dialogue with U.S. federal government, Congress and U.S. states, as well as American public, with eye to making German and European positions more visible.
* Take the initiative to strengthen European foreign policy making mechanism, similar to PESCO structure set up to coordinate EU military projects.
* Do not want to close any chapters in Turkey’s EU accession negotiation, or open any new ones.
* Germany and France to continue pushing for solution to Ukraine conflict. Prepared to loosen sanctions if Russia implements terms of Minsk agreement aimed at ending fighting in Ukraine.
* All West Balkan countries have a chance of joining EU. They need to undertake reforms on fighting organised crime and corruption and on establishing the rule of law.
* Pursue goal of strengthening European contribution to NATO, and strengthening cooperation between EU and NATO.
* No mention of NATO target of spending 2 percent of GDP on military. Aim to achieve agreed NATO capability goals and close gaps in capabilities.
* Recognise Germany’s existing 2020, 2030 and 2050 climate goals. Take measures to reach 2020 climate goal as soon as possible (after 2020). Definitely reach 2030 climate goal on time and pass law to guarantee this.
* Devise programme to gradually reduce coal-fired power generation.
* Continue with plans to phase out nuclear power generation.
* Manage and limit migration to Germany and Europe to prevent a repeat of the 2015 refugee influx.
* Do not expect migration (excluding labour migration) to rise above the range of 180,000 to 220,000 per year.
* Cap at 1,000 a month the number of people who will be allowed to join family members now living in Germany as migrants enjoying a lesser degree of protection than full refugee status.
* Make it more attractive for skilled labourers to come to Germany in an orderly way.
* Improve Germany’s ability to integrate migrants and promote deeper involvement of people of migration background in public life.
* Ban on patenting plant or animal genes.
* Reject cloning of animals for food production.
* Systematically and significantly limit use of weed killer glyphosate with the aim of entirely ending use of plant protection agents that contain this as quickly as possible.
* Set up new post of commissioner to lead fight against anti-Semitism and support Jewish life in Germany.
* Affirm that Israel’s current settlement policy, saying it “contradicts existing international law and does not find our support, because it makes a two-state solution more difficult”.
* Start EU initiative to ensure sufficient and sustainable financing for - and reforms of - the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) that serves Palestinians refugees.
* Older diesel vehicles to be retrofitted to reduce emissions as far as technically and economically viable. Boost funds for national diesel forum, which aims to find ways to reduce pollution from diesel engines.
Reporting by Michelle Martin, Andrea Shalal and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Keith Weir