SPD Leader Asks Party To Back Merkel Talks For Strong Europe

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The leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) said on Thursday that it was necessary to invest in a euro zone budget rather than focusing on austerity and added that he did not support a European Union without freedom of movement of people.

Martin Schulz, who hopes to persuade his party to approve talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel on forming a new coalition, told a congress of his SPD party that Ireland was complicit in allowing companies such as Apple to avoid billions of euros in tax.

But the party suffered historically poor election results after both Merkel coalitions, with support slumping to a post-war low of 20.5 percent in September.

"Europe is our life insurance", said Schulz. 'It is the only chance we have to keep up with the other great regions of the world'. Schulz was the President of the European Parliament from 2011 until January 2017, when he returned to domestic politics.

'If we don't change course, if we don't strengthen Europe in very practical and concrete ways, then these forces will win, ' he warned.

Schulz only relented after Merkel's talks with two smaller parties collapsed just over two weeks ago, sparking heightened political uncertainty.

Some members - including the party's youth wing - want to specifically rule out another coalition with Merkel's Union bloc, leaving only a minority government or a new election as options.

The Social Democrats' leadership insisted the party would go into opposition after a disastrous election result in September.

"We don't have to govern at any price, but we also shouldn't want not to govern at any price", Schulz said.

Michael Broening of the SPD-linked Friedrich Ebert Foundation said the Social Democrats "once again find themselves in a Catch-22 situation".

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