October 1, 2017 / 2:52 PM / a year ago

Pro-business parties try to hem German Greens in with red lines

BERLIN (Reuters) - The premier of Germany’s most populous region warned that the Green party would have to step back from some of its environmentalist red lines if it wanted to join a mooted three-party coalition led by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Armin Laschet of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party CDU is sworn in after being elected as North Rhine-Westphalia's federal state premier in Duesseldorf, Germany, June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Armin Laschet, premier of the industrial heartland state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said in an interview with Handelsblatt newspaper that his and Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) would not do a coalition deal at any price.

Earlier, Christian Lindner, leader of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), the likely third coalition partner, had also said the Greens would need to sacrifice a commitment to environmentalist subsidies and accept tax cuts.

With a “Jamaica coalition” of the conservatives (black), the FDP (yellow) and the Greens the most plausible coalition after last Sunday’s national vote, the parties that enjoy the overwhelming support of Germany’s business community rushed to hem in the leftist Greens with red lines.

“A Jamaica coalition agreement must make clear that there will be no de-industrialisation,” said Laschet, whose state is home to one of Germany’s largest concentrations of heavy industry.

The Greens’ wish for fixed target dates for banning polluting combustion engines or coal-fired power stations would harm industry, he added.

Lindner, whose party is popular among the family businesses traditionally seen as the backbone of the German economy, told mass-selling paper Bild am Sonntag that he would be happy to accept a tax-cutting Green as finance minister.

“It would be fine to have a Green finance minister who cuts the tax burden on the middle classes,” said Lindner, seen as one of the leading candidates for the key finance job in a Jamaica coalition.

The Greens voted on Saturday to start exploratory talks on a deal, indicating that they would like to see a softening of the FDP’s tough line on immigration.

Laschet said talks on a post-election three-way deal, the first in Germany since the 1950s, could last into next year, though he hoped for a deal before January.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Dale Hudson

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