CDU and FDP agree to boost child benefits

Germany's incoming centre-right coalition partners the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP) are planning a big increase in child benefits, daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported on Thursday.

CDU and FDP agree to boost child benefits
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats reportedly agree on boosting direct benefits and tax exemptions, but are negotiating whether FDP campaign plans to raise monthly Kindergeld payments of €164 to €200 per child are appropriate given budgetary concerns.

But a single increase of Germany’s tax exemption for dependent children is not enough, CDU family policy spokesperson Johannes Singhammer told the paper. “It’s also essential to increase child benefits,” he said. “We need an integrated increase in family policies.”

According to inside sources, both the CDU and the FDP have already agreed to increase yearly tax exemptions from €6,024 to €8,004 – which will cost the government some €3 billion. If per-child benefits increase to €200 each month, the combined increases will cost some €7 billion, the paper reported.

Special interest groups also warned the paper that raising tax write-offs alone would divide high and low income parents. Only single parents who earn more than €38,800 per year, or couples who together earn €74,700 would benefit from higher tax exemptions, the paper reported.

News magazine Der Spiegel reported on Thursday that the incoming coalition is grappling with how to plug major budgetary shortfalls making both the proposed child benefit increases and the FDP’s promised tax cuts difficult to finance.

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Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.