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German Greens cringe at Austrian peers' coalition deal with Kurz

FILE PHOTO: Leader of Germany's Green Party Annalena Baerbock is seen during the delegates' conference in Bielefeld, Germany November 16, 2019. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s environmentalist Greens have baulked at concessions their Austrian peers have made on immigration policy to clinch a coalition deal with conservative Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz that puts them in government for the first time.

Kurz returned to power on Tuesday as his coalition cabinet with the Greens was sworn in. Austria joins Sweden and Finland in having the Greens in government at a time of growing calls for urgent action on climate change.

In contrast to those fellow European Union member states, Austria’s Greens are not governing with the centre-left, making this an interesting test case. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives could opt for a similar coalition after an election due by next year.

But Germany’s Greens were quick to take issue with the Austrian coalition deal.

“There will be no such thing in Germany,” Greens leader Annalena Baerbock told the TAZ newspaper.

The deal includes raising the age until which girls are banned from wearing a headscarf in school to 14 from around 10, an extension of a policy introduced under Kurz’s last coalition, which was with the far right.

It also includes reviving a disputed plan for preventive custody of potentially dangerous individuals, even if they have not committed a crime, which was put forward under the previous coalition after a fatal stabbing apparently committed by an asylum seeker in February.

“This agreement is not a blueprint for Germany,” said German Greens lawmaker Luise Amtsberg, who specialises in immigration policy.

Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by Nick Macfie