|[Published: Thursday September 16 2021]
What Angela Merkel’s departure means for the EU
BERLIN - Europeans are hoping that Germany will abandon “Merkelism” and adopt a more radical approach to solving the EU’s problems after of the country’s next chancellor is appointed later this month, according to a new study.
As Angela Merkel prepares to step down after 16 years in Germany’s top job, “many Europeans accept her country as the EU’s leader”, said The Guardian.
But research by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) suggests that people across the bloc want Germany to ditch her “neutral” position towards the crisis-hit continent.
“Angela Merkel has come to embody a strong and stable Germany, positioning herself as Europe’s anchor though more than a decade of crises,” study co-author Piotr Buras told the paper. “But ‘Merkelism’ is no longer sustainable.”
The outgoing German leader has “adroitly managed the status quo across the continent”, he said, but “the challenges that Europe faces now - the pandemic, climate change, geopolitical competition - require radical solutions, not cosmetic changes. The EU needs a visionary Germany.”
‘Golden age over’
The study, based on polling in 12 EU member states, found “strong and continued” support for German leadership within the bloc and widespread approval for Merkel.
Of a total 16,257 people quizzed, 41% said they would support her over France’s Emmanuel Macron in a hypothetical contest for EU president. Support for Merkel was highest in the Netherlands (58%), Spain (57%) and Portugal (52%).