German chancellor piles pressure on the Social Democrats to rejoin a "grand coalition" with the Christian Democratic Union as the EU power is still without a government since September 24 national election.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday her party was ready to hold serious talks with the Social Democrats to form a government, warning that time is pressing as Europe faces a slew of challenges.
More than two months after its September 24 national election, Europe's economic and political powerhouse is still without a government and officials say serious coalition talks may now begin only in the new year.
"Not only do we have diverse problems in Germany, but there are also great expectations in Europe for answers to pressing questions," Merkel told reporters after huddling with leaders of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Berlin.
As the SPD refused initially to renew an alliance with Merkel's conservatives, the veteran chancellor had sought to partner up with the pro-business FDP and the ecologist Greens.
However, those talks collapsed, lurching Germany into a political crisis and raising the spectre of snap elections.
With the SPD now relenting, Merkel said there is "now an offer to talk, we mean it seriously."
Meanwhile, SPD leader Martin Schulz said nothing had been ruled out ahead of talks with Merkel's conservatives on forming a new government, but added that there was no certainty of success.
"No options are off the table," Schulz told a news conference at his party's Berlin headquarters on Monday, adding that it was impossible to say where preliminary talks, due to begin on Thursday, would lead.
Stressing the importance for Germany to have a stable government, Merkel said European partners like France were impatiently waiting for Berlin to "take a stance" on reform proposals for the bloc.
"Also given the conflicts in the Middle East, the situation with Russia, the situation in the United States, I think it would be good if Germany is capable of taking action," she said.
"And that's why we are ready to take on talks with the SPD. Just as we have undertaken exploratory talks that were serious, engaged and honest with the FDP and the Greens, we are ready to do the same with the Social Democrats," she said.
Nevertheless, Germany is unlikely to see a government for weeks, if not months.
Julia Kloeckner, deputy chief of Merkel's CDU, said formal negotiations with the SPD are unlikely to begin before 2018, after the labour party holds its congress next week, followed by the Christmas break.
A majority of Germans (52 percent) are in favour of a new grand coalition, known in German as the GroKo, according a survey published in the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.