Merkel to discuss fiscal pact with German parties

Reuters News
Posted: May 21, 2012 7:28 AM
Merkel to discuss fiscal pact with German parties

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss with the leaders of German political parties on Thursday the prospects for a European fiscal pact she wants parliament to approve before its summer recess despite opposition foot-dragging.

Government spokesman Georg Streiter said Merkel, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and other senior officials would meet the national and parliamentary leaders of the main parties on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (1300-1500 GMT).

The subject would be "the fiscal pact, Europe and everything linked to that", Streiter told a news conference.

The opposition centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), emboldened by Socialist Francois Hollande's victory in France's presidential election, has said it will only support the fiscal pact if it is accompanied by measures to boost growth and jobs.

The SPD, whose support Merkel needs to get the fiscal pact through parliament, has said it will be tough to approve the tougher budget rules before the summer recess and has ruled out voting on May 25 as originally planned.

Twenty five of the European Union's 27 member states have signed off on the fiscal pact, which Merkel insists is necessary to overcome the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis. The signatories have until the end of the year to ratify the pact.

As the pact affects sovereignty and the constitution, the government needs approval by a two-thirds majority in both houses of the German parliament, the Bundestag (lower house) and the Bundesrat (upper).

Despite their uncooperative stance, the europhile SPD and Greens are unlikely to torpedo the pact and have supported Merkel on previous emergency measures in the euro zone debt crisis.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller, writing by Stephen Brown, editing by Gareth Jones)