Germany's Schulz wants 'United States of Europe' by 2025

A balloon with the logo of SPD is seen as Schulz top candidate of the SPD for the upcoming federal election gives a speech in Abensberg

SPD leader promises to push Germany to embrace Macron

'Those who are against it will simply leave the EU, ' SPD party chief tells party conference.

Germany's second largest party SPD leader Martin Schulz on Thursday called for the transformation of the European Union into a United States of Europe by 2025 with a common constitution.

He was speaking at a congress where the party is debating whether to start talks on joining a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, who shed votes to the far-right in September's election and failed to form an alliance with two smaller parties.

He had pledged to go into opposition after an indecisive election in September but was forced to change his mind by senior party figures...

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His U-turn - which he was pushed into by his own MPs - has earned Schulz much ridicule both nationally and within the SPD and led to charges that he is unfit to continue to lead Germany's oldest political party. They include abolishing private health insurance, stricter climate protection goals, the end to a ban on some asylum seekers bringing family members to Germany, improved tax arrangements for families and pension reform.

However, some members - including the party's youth wing - want to specifically rule out another coalition, leaving only a minority government or a new election as options.

The drafting process of such a constitutional treaty, Schulz said, should involve citizens across the Continent. Macron is also greatly dependent on Merkel's continuation in the role of chancellor if he is to have any solid support in the European Union for his economic reform agenda.

The Social Democrats have been part of Germany's government for 15 of the past 19 years - first leading a center-left government under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder from 1998 to 2005, then twice governing in a "grand coalition" under Merkel, from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 until now.

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