Germany’s Angela Merkel debates 2018 budget in Bundestag

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Angela Merkel has discussed a controversial first draft of the 2018 budget in a second day of talks in Germany’s parliament. Other party leaders want to see drastic changes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood before lawmakers in the Bundestag on Wednesday to kick off a second day of parliamentary discussions on a controversial first draft of the 2018 government budget.

Opposition parties from the right and left and members of Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) have publicly criticized the draft budget of Germany’s new Social Democratic (SPD) finance minister, Olaf Scholz, in recent weeks.

Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), Greens and the Left have fired separate complaints, touching on topics such as defense spending, infrastructure investments and tax relief.

Germany’s security

Germany, Merkel said, must use different measures to protect itself, including alliances such as the EU and NATO and the relationship with the United States — despite transatlantic differences. Although military force is not everything, she said, Germany must be prepared to uphold its alliance commitments. Europe has together taken a step forward by agreeing to deepen its security cooperation through PESCO. But Europe also needs to work together to combat the sources of migration to bolster its security by helping poorer countries develop economically.

Iran deal

Merkel criticized the US cancellation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. She said the agreement was not ideal, but that Iran has been abiding by the agreement. Western countries should address Iran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East, but these actions do not nullify the need for the existing agreement.

Germany’s economy

Merkel said data shows Germany’s economy is strong, citing no new government debt since 2014 and a falling debt pile that will shortly put Germany in line with European Union rules. She admitted that the country needed to invest in its infrastructure, particularly in its digital infrastructure, to make sure the economy was future-proof.

Europe

The chancellor said European governments needed to strengthen the Eurozone and make it crisis proof. Germany and others, she added, were actively discussing how they could deal with the hole left by Brexit in the EU budget.

Industry 4.0

The “digitization” of Germany’s economy and society presents new challenges, Merkel said, citing the difficulty of taxing foreign high technology firms like Google and the need for a balance between data protection and technological innovation.

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