Germany moves to commit to cannabis and coal ban

Image copyright Simon Schluter Image caption Germany’s new government will announce plans to take a tougher stance on coal

Germany’s incoming government, led by Angela Merkel’s conservatives, has pledged to end coal production by 2050 and to do more to treat addiction to cannabis.

The plans are among the most contentious that the conservatives will unveil to parliament after they secured victory in federal elections last month.

The government will formally be sworn in on Friday.

Among other proposals, the conservatives propose bringing forward high-speed “connected” internet networks and eliminating traffic jams.

Voters turned against the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in regional elections in October, and turned to the far-right, anti-immigration AfD party in the Bundestag elections on 24 September.

Here is a look at the government’s proposals.

Ending coal by 2050

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Coal has been used in Germany for centuries

Opponents of Merkel’s cabinet now say the conservatives are backtracking from an election pledge to do away with coal by 2050.

The conservatives have now apparently gone back on that idea, saying the new German government will abandon coal by 2050 in favour of renewable energies.

They say the government will look into a “long-term transition strategy” for coal by that date, and that this will also include the option of “social methods” to help people who have jobs in the sector or at coal mines but are worried about their future.

Instead of further subsidies for coal, the conservatives want to open it up to competition from low- and middle-income households.

Cannabis drugs – is legal

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption More than 7,000 people died from marijuana-related overdoses in Germany in 2016

The conservatives want to legalise cannabis in Germany.

The government is no longer proposing to criminalise the production and possession of cannabis, but only to regulate it under strict controls.

Marijuana users will face a number of restrictions, including a ban on smoking it in public.

According to a draft law seen by Reuters news agency, sellers of “hard cannabis” like hashish and hash oil would be required to display pictures and explanations about its potential medical use.

They would have to apply to be licensed, and would be tested for any psychoactive effects.

People under 21 would be banned from using the drug, while non-head shops would only be allowed to sell cannabis for private use.

Europe’s fifth biggest economy

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Angela Merkel is still Germany’s chancellor

Germany will continue to take steps to implement the Brexit “divorce settlement” – which includes the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British people living in Germany.

One of the key points of debate is the £34bn bill the UK is due to pay. The Conservatives still hope the divorce settlement can be done by 2020, when they hope to win a general election.

Other points of contention include Brexit’s impact on the free flow of goods between the EU and Germany, the EU’s fourth biggest economy.

Germany’s new government will work on “rebalancing” Germany’s foreign and security policy to “facilitate” European integration.

These are three of Merkel’s words – her main focus during the campaign.

Image copyright Gualmini Elzie Image caption The German economy is the strongest among the EU’s largest countries

The economy – still the strongest among the EU’s largest economies – may prove to be the greatest challenge for the conservative government to deal with.

Its plans include privatising parts of the power sector, opening up the agriculture and telecoms sectors to more competition, and creating more jobs in high-tech fields.

The government also wants to speed up broadband internet provision, offer 8,000 public space for small and medium businesses, boost recycling and encourage export trade.

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