The European Union without Angela Merkel will be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower, gushing Eurocrats told the outgoing German leader on Friday as she attended what ought to be her last ever EU Summit.
Angela Merkel, who has now been in the process of leaving her job as German Chancellor and the world’s most powerful woman at a glacial pace for nearly three years, attended her 107th European Summit on Friday.
Top Eurocrats heaped praise and gifts — including an artwork of the Europa Building in Brussels, the home of the European Council — on Merkel at the meeting, reports French newspaper Le Figaro, which noted Council President Charles Michel’s comparisons of the chancellor to famous European buildings.
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“…without Angela, it’s like Rome without the Vatican or Paris without the Eiffel Tower”, said Michel, reportedly continuing: “Our farewell to the European scene affects us politically but also fills us with emotion. You are a monument.”
France24 reports those assembled at the closed-door meeting of leaders in Brussels gave Merkel a standing ovation.
Dr Merkel’s relinquishing of the reigns of power in Europe has nearly been as slow as any other in modern history. After a string of humiliating election performances in 2018, Chancellor Merkel announced she would be standing down as party leader and resigning as chancellor, but not until 2021, almost three years hence.
In the subsequent years, numerous attempts tried and failed to find a politician capable of stepping into Dr Merkel’s shoes.
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First, there was Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, ‘AKK’, known as ‘Mini-Merkel’ in Germany, the chancellor’s hand-picked successor. But that was not to last, with AKK standing down in early 2020 after she failed to gain support both from her party colleagues and the German people. Remarkably, just 15 per cent of Germans said they thought she should be the next chancellor.
So Germany’s Christian Democrats voted on a new leader again, settling next on domestic big-hitter Armin Laschet. Yet he, too, failed to make any great gains with the German people, as the party’s woeful performance at this year’s national election attests. The worst result for the centre-right bloc since 1949, Laschet announced immediately afterwards that he would be standing down, with a new leader to be selected by the end of the year.
Catastrophic for Merkel’s party as the election results were, they were inconclusive for the country at large. While rainbow coalition talks progress — and may do for many months more — Germany continues under a caretaker government with a caretaker chancellor. Far from stepping down in 2021, caretaker Merkel with two failed ‘successors’ behind her and a third on the way, may be chancellor into 2022.