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Germany's next government signs coalition deal

December 7, 2021

The leaders of the Social Democrats, Greens and the Free Democrats met in Berlin to officially sign their three-party coalition deal.

Olaf Scholz stands next to Christian Lindner, Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock
The three-party coaltion led by Scholz's SPD is set to be sworn in this weekImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's center-left Social Democrats (SPD) signed a coalition agreement with the leaders of the environmentalist Green Party and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) in a ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday.

The move comes a day after the Greens voted to approve the coalition deal, the last party to do so.

Germany's incoming chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is due to be elected and sworn in as Angela Merkel's successor this week.

DW's chief political editor Michaela Kuefner noted that with the signing of the coalition deal, "this is the moment the post-Merkel Era begins for real."

What did leaders say?

Scholz said that tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the surge of fourth wave infections in Germany will initially require all of the new government's "strength and energy."

"If the good cooperation that worked while we were forming the government continues to work, it will be a very, very good time for the tasks that lie ahead of us,'' he said.

Greens co-leader and incoming foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said the coalition agreement "reflects the diversity in our country" and that diversity will be the government's guiding principle in the years to come.

FDP head Christian Lindner, who is set to become Germany's next finance minister, said that the new government knows "we face great challenges."

"We said that we want to venture more progress, and from this week on we want to work on progress,'' Lindner said at the signing ceremony.

What are the foreign policy priorities?

During a press conference later on Tuesday morning, Scholz was pressed to clarify his foreign policy goals — particularly in light of the growing tensions regarding the situation in Ukraine.

Scholz said his first trip outside of Germany as chancellor will be to Paris and Brussels — emphasizing the new government's push to ensure "Europe is strong and sovereign."

Speaking at the press conference alongside Greens co-leader Robert Habeck and FDP head Lindner, Scholz added that transatlantic cooperation and a future call with US President Joe Biden are also likely in the cards.

"It is now clear what binds us together," Scholz said.

With regards to the latest movements of Russian troops on the border to Ukraine, Scholz said that it must be made "very, very clear" to Russia that further threats to Ukraine would be unacceptable.

He was notably less direct when asked to clarify his policy towards China, instead saying that working with the EU and the US would be the most immediate priorities. 

What happens next?

With the coalition agreement now officially signed, the next German government is ready to get sworn-in and get to work this week.

Scholz is due to be inaugurated as chancellor on Wednesday, following a vote in the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag.

The rest of his cabinet is also due to be sworn in on the same day.

With Scholz's swearing-in, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's time in office will officially end after 16 years in office. Her center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) will also go into the opposition in parliament.

rs/rc (dpa, AFP, AP)