German Opposition Unanimously Backs Radical Reforms | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 03.12.2003
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German Opposition Unanimously Backs Radical Reforms

Germany’s opposition conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister Bavarian party the Christian Social Union (CSU) ended a two-day annual party conference in Leipzig on Tuesday by endorsing radical plans to reform the country’s overburdened welfare and tax system. The reform proposals, presented by CDU leader Angela Merkel, include delinking the funding of health and nursing care services from Germany’s high non-wage labor costs, simplifying the existing tax system and replacing the income-related health insurance contributions with flat-rate health premiums of around €200 a month. Analysts point out that the successful conference also helped cement Merkel’s position within the party after she tenaciously pushed through with what were originally seen as widely unpopular reforms. However German Finance Minister Hans Eichel of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) sharply criticized the CDU’s radical tax reforms on Wednesday and said that chances of a cross-party compromise on an early implementation of key tax reforms now seemed slim. The CDU/CSU social reform plans also came under fire from the German Anti Poverty Conference, which warned that poverty and unfairness would grow in society as a result of the reforms.