Exploratory Talks in Germany

by Jonas Wolframm
Exploratory talks between CDU/CSU and SPD start this week

Exploratory talks between CDU/CSU and SPD start this week

At a summit meeting on 20 December, the parties agreed on the timetable for exploratory talks as well as 15 topical blocks. The talks will take place alternately at the party headquarters. Topical block no. 8 on "social affairs, pensions, health, care" will be discussed from Tuesday 9 January on.

The negotiations will be conducted by a 39-member leading group and 15 sub-working groups. In the leading group, the following politicians with health policy experience are participating: Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), Jens Spahn (CDU), Dr. Helge Braun (CDU), Horst Seehofer (CSU), Malu Dreyer (SPD) and Manuela Schwesig (SPD). The sub-working group “social affairs, pensions, health, care” is led from the CDU-side by the Prime Minister of Saarland, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and accompanied by the current Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, and MP Sabine Weiss. For the CSU, under the leadership of the President of the Bavarian Parliament, Barbara Stamm, Bavarian Health Minister Melanie Huml and MP Stephan Stracke will participate in the health-related content elaborations. The SPD group is led by the Prime Minister and former Minister of Health of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer and accompanied by the current Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Andrea Nahles, and the health politician Prof. Dr. med. Karl-Lauterbach.

The biggest challenge to reach an agreement on the content of health policy is the issue of the so-called “Bürgerversicherung” which is a key point of the SPD’s agenda but heavily rejected by CDU and CSU. In addition, it remains to be seen what additional health policy demands and positions the internal conference of the CSU from 4 to 6 January will bring for the following negotiations. In addition, it is speculated that the SPD will stake a claim for the Ministry of Health. Potential SPD candidates for the position of Federal Health Minister are Prof. Dr. Karl Lauterbach, Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, and Katarina Barley.

After completion of the explorations on Thursday, 11 January, the respective parliamentary groups and party committees will discuss the results internally on 12 January and beyond. Subsequently, the executive boards of CDU and CSU will presumably decide on the start of coalition negotiations on 15 January. The SPD has announced to vote on the start of coalition negotiations at a special party congress on 21 January. From an SPD perspective, this vote is considered to be the biggest hurdle on the way to a relaunch of the “Grand Coalition”.

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