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Six key takeaways from Germany’s new coalition agreement

Germany’s possible new coalition wants to legalize cannabis and phase out coal earlier than planned.

Three parties – the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) – unveiled a coalition agreement on Wednesday that should result in the formation of a new government under SPD leader Olaf Scholz.

“We want to trust ourselves and dare to make more progress: in protecting the climate, in restructuring our industry, in modernizing the country, in strengthening social cohesion,” Scholz wrote on social media.

He praised the increase in Germany’s minimum wage to 12 euros, an increase in publicly funded housing and an expansion of digital infrastructure.

Scholz also pledged to establish a federal-state crisis team and think tank to brief the government on COVID-19 on a daily basis as the country faces a brutal fourth wave of the virus.

“During these days and weeks, we have negotiated closely, intensely and at times passionately and most of all, trusting each other. I really liked it and it strengthened the feeling in me that something has really grown together as coalition”.

Green party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck said in a statement that the coalition agreement that comes after “intensive negotiations” has set the course for change in Germany.

“As a large industrialized country, on this basis, we can force the conversion of the energy system to renewable energy, rebuild the industry and finally embark on the 1.5 degree path,” they said.

The parties also agreed to limit the country’s debt starting in 2023 and not increase taxes, the Free Democrats said.

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Each party will now go through its own process to decide on the deal, and within weeks the new government could take over.

1. Key ministries distributed among the parties

Under the coalition agreement, the SPD will provide Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as well as the Interior, Labor, Defense and Health ministries.

The Greens will appoint the vice chancellor and the leadership of the “super ministry” of foreign relations, economy and climate protection, ministry of the family, environmental conservation and ministries of agriculture and food.

They will retain the right to appoint the European Commissioner as long as the President of the Commission, as now, is not from Germany.

The liberal FDP will hold the finance ministry, a post that will likely go to party leader Christian Lindner. They will also provide leadership for the ministries of justice, transportation, and education.

2. Elimination of coal by 2030, expansion of renewable energies

The agreement states that “an accelerated phase-out of coal-based power generation is also necessary to meet climate protection targets.”

The parties agree to “implement the revision step planned for 2026 in the Carbon Elimination Law by the end of 2022 at the latest.”

“We are vigorously pushing the expansion of renewable energy so that the share of renewables in electricity is 80 percent by 2030,” the Greens said in a statement. They said this will allow them to advance the phase-out of coal until 2030.

“In addition, 50 percent of the heat will be generated in a climate-neutral way by 2030. To achieve this, we will ensure comprehensive municipal heat planning and expansion of heating networks with renewable energy,” they said.

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3. More funding for German foreign policy

With the Greens in charge of the Foreign Ministry, the country is expected to lead the fight against climate change internationally.

But the parties also placed an emphasis on the rule of law and diplomacy, with a plan to invest three percent of the country’s GDP in international stocks. The agreement also emphasized the transatlantic alliance and the importance of NATO.

“If you first look at that in the context of the EU and there is a very strong emphasis on the rule of law, for example, and that is something that I think the FDP and the Greens pushed in particular,” said Rafael Loss, at the European Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin.

“We also see a harsher tone in China,” Loss added, including mentioning Taiwan’s involvement in international organizations, human rights violations in Xinjiang, and an emphasis on “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong in the Hong Kong agreement. coalition. .

4. Legalize cannabis

The new agreement says the parties will legalize cannabis and increase education on alcohol and nicotine prevention.

“We introduce controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes in licensed stores,” states the coalition agreement.

“This will control quality, prevent the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantee the protection of minors. We will evaluate the social impact of the law after four years.”

5. Commitment to innovation and digital infrastructure

A large part of the agreement looks at Germany’s need for a “comprehensive digital awakening” for the “prosperity, freedom, social participation and sustainability” of the people.

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The parties want a digitization “offensive” that includes the deployment of a national fiber optic supply and the latest mobile communication standards, they said. They also want to increase the state’s digital services.

“We are expanding the digital infrastructure so that there is fast internet and reliable cell phone reception everywhere,” said Scholz.

6. Reduction of the minimum voting age to 16 years and other electoral changes

The parties also plan to lower the voting age for the European elections to 16 years. They would also like to change Germany’s Basic Law to lower the voting age for Bundestag elections as well.

They want to make voting easier for Germans abroad, the parties said.

“In the first year we are tackling the reform of the electoral law, with the aim of significantly reducing the size of the Bundestag again,” the Greens said in a statement.

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