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Migration and climate, first clashes in government negotiations in Germany

Conservatives, Liberals, and greens disagree on crucial issues in conversations to form the Jamaica Coalition

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Migration and climate, first clashes in government negotiations in Germany

The first cracks have loomed this week in negotiations that hold German parties called to form a coalition of government. Immigration, asylum and climate change are culprits in first round of talks between CDU/CSU conservative bloc, Green and liberal. They must be born so-called Coalition Jamaica, by colors of Caribbean island, an unprecedented experiment in history of German federal policy and that in principle did not want any of parties condemned now to be understood.

"The differences are very very large," estimated Peter Tauber, secretary general of CDU, after marathon session of 12 hours last Thursday. Nicola Beer, general secretary of Liberals (FDP), 50% of possibilities that parties seated at negotiating table finally achieve a government agreement.

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The chancellor's party, Angela Merkel, won German elections last September, but with an insufficient majority to form a government. Arithmetic now obliges Chancellor to sit down to negotiate with parties with positions confronted in matters that are crucially profiling in next legislature. This week was only beginning of a few complex negotiations that are expected to continue as soon as Christmas.

Migration and above all asylum have been matters that have marked past legislature. About a million and a half refugees arrived in Germany in last two years, giving rise to proliferation of xenophobic attacks and resurgence of an extreme right that has ended up occupying 94 seats in Parliament. The political pressure on Chancellor Merkel and her party to tighten up migration policy has since been a constant.

First run-in: The Christian Democratic Union of Merkel (CDU) and its Bavarian ally, most conservative CSU, agreed before negotiations began a maximum goal of entry of refugees of 200,000 people. The Greens oppose a numerical limit on right to asylum. "It is basis for any negotiation" showed itself however inflexibly Andreas Scheuer, secretary-general of Bavarian CSU.

The differences go far beyond that. One of most thorny issues that threatens to dominate political agenda next few months is family reunification. Interior estimates that some 200,000 people could come to Germany within framework of family reunification of refugees already in country. The previous government imposed a moratorium that expires next spring for entry of relatives of those who obtained subsidiary protection, something like a lower degree of refugee status.

The conservative bloc and Liberals want to prolong this moratorium to limit number of migrants in Germany. The Greens, however, oppose a measure perceived as an obstacle to integration. "A refugee who is in Germany and whose family is in Syria in Greece or in Libya has a much smaller incentive to integrate," explains sources of ecologist party.

"The figures that are shuffled are not too high." It is rar a symbolic decision, a political message from Berlin to voters and those who think of migrating in which Germany must decide wher to give image of a country that is inclusive or restrictive in its migration policy, ' interprets Thomas Liebig , an expert in OECD migrations.

Extending list of safe countries to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria is anor of proposals of Conservative bloc that support Liberals and that do not have approval of Greens.

Yes agree parties however in approving a new immigration law for economic migrants. The key however is orientation that must have norm called to regulate migratory flows and entry of demanded skilled labor in Germany.

Environmental policy is source of second great run-in. The environmentalists want that beyond good words, parties agree how y intend to implement international commitments acquired by Germany to reduce greenhouse gases. They demand concretion and if not, warned Katrin Göring-Eckardt, CO leader of Greens, in a video hung by party on social networks, "We can't keep talking."

The ecologist party also calls for closure of 20 most polluting coal plants and a timetable for total abandonment of this source of dirty energy. The Greens ' plans collide with liberal reluctance to commitments that pose expensive economic sacrifices and policies of a government that has so far tried to avoid touching an economic activity that thousands of jobs depend on.

If negotiations fail

Parties called to form Jamaica coalition negotiate under pressure and without too many alternatives in sight. Electoral arithmetic leaves little room for manoeuvre. Beyond Jamaica, only or option with which election-winning conservative bloc could form a government would be a new great coalition, which social-democracy rejects flat. If current talks were to fail, re would be option of forming a minority government, a rarity that Merkel does not seem to be predisposed. Ruled out all of above, repeat elections would be last option, which parties claim to be willing to avoid almost at any price.

"A strong and united Europe"

The future of Europe is shaping toger with migration as one of most thorny issues of German coalition negotiations. Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to support President Emmanuel Macron's impulse to reform eurozone with aim of preventing potential future crises.

The problem is that Liberals, one of four parties sitting at negotiating table, maintain a very restrictive interpretation of what y consider to be deepening of European project. In or words, y are wary of any mechanism involving sharing of risks and financial transfers between member countries. And problem, above all, is that Liberals are called to occupy portfolio of finances, which has just left empty so far almighty Wolfgang Schäuble, which has marked passage of finances of eurozone.

This week, parties have addressed issue of Europe and miraculously have not jumped sparks. In part, because it has parked any type of concretion, which should be addressed later. "The Directorate-General has been very pro-european and a general will to follow Macron's footsteps," explains a source close to negotiations.

"Negotiators commit to formation of a strong and united Europe," says draft that parties assume, and that CSU leader Manfred Weber hung up on his Twitter account on Friday. "Franco-German cooperation is of special relevance to us," he adds.

Generalities are easiest. It is now necessary to achieve rapprochement in concrete points such as creation of a European Monetary Fund such as one advocated by Schäuble or founding of a euro budget and appointment of a minister for eurozone as Macron defends. "Eurozone reform is going to be most complicated, partly because it is a matter susceptible to being exploited to extreme right (AfD)," says Joerg Forbrig, a researcher at German Marshall Fund. "The Future of Europe is a topic that should have been discussed during campaign and yet deliberately avoided and now under pressure is much more difficult," he adds.

There was also no agreement on how to deal with relationship with Turkey, a country with which Germany has sound diplomatic clashes. The CDU, CSU and Liberals opt to break Ankara's approach to community block. The Greens however, with a very critical co-leader of Turkish origin with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's regime, and emerging as next German foreign minister, are unmarked from that strategy. "We're just at beginning of negotiation." "It's going to be a very long process," warns sources close to negotiation.

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