Compromise on two thorny domestic issues has allowed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to focus on cutting a deal on a proposed new EU treaty.
Merkel had risked getting bogged down on the home front ahead of Thursday’s EU summit.
The biggest hurdle was the minimum wage. The Chancellor’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, wanted a flat base level to apply to the whole economy. Merkel’s Christian Democrats opposed this but agreed to allow different industrial sectors- hairdressing, hotellery, restauration and so on- to fix their own minimum wage.
The Social Democrats joined Merkel’s conservatives in the coalition after decades of rivalry between the two. Despite the deal, some do not believe it goes far enough. One Social Democrat said the recent rise in number of people in the lowest wage bracket led them to push for a national level.
With the question of a slight rise in social security contributions also settled between the coalition parties, Merkel now has some breathing room before heading to Brussels.