The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) has called for a United States of Europe by 2025 in a speech on Thursday in which he also urged his party to enter coalition talks with Angela Merkel’s CDU to put an end to Germany’s post-election political impasse. Martin Schulz made his comments at the SPD conference in Berlin ahead of a vital vote on whether the party should agree to a fourth term in government as part of a grand coalition with the centre-right CDU. Laying out his vision as to what his priorities would be in government Schulz said he would push for “constitutional treaty” to create a federal Europe. “Such a constitutional treaty has to be written by a convention that includes civil society and the people. This constitutional treaty will then have to be put to the member states and those that don’t approve it will automatically have to leave the EU,” Schulz said. He also called for a break with austerity and greater protections for workers, saying: “Europe does not always work for its people, rather too often [it works for] for the big companies.
In the wake of September’s elections in which the SPD received the lowest share of votes in its modern history, Schulz vowed to take the party into opposition and rebuild its base. However, he has since bowed to pressure to drop his objection to entering a fourth grand coalition since tripartite talks broke down between the CDU, the Free Democrats and the Greens. Schulz addressed the worries in his party that another term in government could lead to a further haemorrhaging of support to the possible benefit of the far-right Alternative for Germany Party. “We didn’t manage to answer the question what social democracy stands for in the 21st century. Our biggest problem is that have lost our clear profile.” However he argued that the best way to reverse that damage would be to bring an end to the economic austerity implemented by the former finance minister Wolfgang Schauble. “The EU cannot afford another four years of German policy towards Europe à la Wolfgang Schäuble,” he said. “We need a European finance minister who curbs the race to the bottom in tax policy and ends the insufferable avoidance of tax. We need a European framework for a minimum wage that ends wage dumping,” the SPD leader said.