Merkel outlines German gov't priorities for H2 2019

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-19 22:52:21|Editor: yan
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BERLIN, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The German government will launch several important projects in the second half (H2) of this year, Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists at her traditional summer press conference on Friday.

She announced that a bill to reduce the solidarity surcharge -- an add-on tax instituted in the early 1990s to help the east of Germany catch up with the west -- is scheduled to be adopted in early autumn.

Germany's government coalition has agreed to substantially reform the surcharge so that 90 percent of German citizens would no longer have to pay it.

Merkel also announced that her government is scheduled to discuss the issue of equal living conditions in Germany with the federal states in the autumn. Living standards vary greatly across Germany and are typically higher in the richer states in the west, and especially in southern Germany.

Despite the recent internal personnel changes at the top of the Christian Democratic Union's (CDU) governing partner Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel said she expected the German government coalition to continue its work until the end of its term.

Merkel said that cooperation between her CDU party and the three interim party leaders of the SPD as well as German Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was "very, very reliable."

However, she said that the SPD would not be treated differently now just to keep the coalition alive. Merkel stressed that the coalition agreement would remain the basis for the government's work.

The chancellor admitted that little progress had been made in difficult areas, such as migration laws and basic pensions, but emphasized that "wherever there is goodwill, ways have always been found."

In recent weeks, the German government has shown, for example with the laws on immigration and the law on the immigration of skilled workers, that it is capable of acting, "although we sometimes have to bridge major differences of opinion."

Describing the country's political landscape, Merkel acknowledged that the German Green Party was currently behind the CDU in the polls, and said that the current state of the Green Party as "very strong."

The CDU must accept that reality and the party must show that it "is adhering to its climate protection goals, but still wants to focus on innovation and economic progress," she said.