Angela Merkel to exploit EU takeover to salvage Brussels project amid threat of split

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Angela Merkel will oversee Germany’s leadership of the European Council for the last time before stepping down after over 15 years at the helm of her country. The German Chancellor already signalled her efforts will be focused on ensuring the European Union recovers from the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. German broadcaster DW’s chief political editor Michaela Küfner suggested Mrs Merkel will also use her experience to ensure the bloc remains stable despite growing threats of collapse.

Ms Küfner said: “She will have to pull Europe back from the kind of nation-state thinking that kicked in as the initial reflex when the corona crisis struck.

“Being Europe’s longest-serving leader who heads its largest economy could help.

“Merkel has already started pledging German money, for the first accepting joint EU debt as part of a joint €500 billion recovery plan with French President Emmanuel Macron. She may drop more red lines.

“Whether Angela Merkel can push Europe to take a leap of faith into the future may prove decisive for the stability of the EU. It will certainly be decisive for her entry into the history books.”

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Germany will kick off the next round of presidency rotation of the European Council, setting the tone for the bloc’s agenda for the next year and a half alongside Portugal and Slovenia.

The presidency of the council is expected to offer Chancellor Merkel a final opportunity to take the lead on the European scene after she confirmed in 2017 she will not be running for re-election in 2021 after her CDU party suffered severe setbacks at the polls.

But DW correspondent Barbara Wesel insisted Mrs Merkel will exploit all her leadership experience in a bid to bridge the economic and ideological gap the coronavirus pandemic created among EU member states.

Ms Wesel said: “Angela Merkel will really show that she can be the leader of the European Union.

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“She will be capable as the most experienced and knowledgeable European leader that she will be capable of pulling back the union from the brink.

“There is a certain threat it could fall apart because of the economic disaster that is looming on the horizon.

“They have to counteract that and it will be up to Angela Merkel to pull on these interests and these conflicts together between north and south, and west and east. “

Ms Wesel added: “She will have to be the maker of all those compromises that will have to be found.”


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Mrs Merkel and Emmanuel Macron last week proposed to borrow up to €500 billion on the international markets to hand out in grants and loans to member states struggling because of the outbreak.

On Wednesday, European Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen echoed the Chancellor and the President’s proposals by outlining a plan for a series of new EU taxation powers to help collect money for member states.

Mrs von der Leyen said: “We face our very own defining moment. What started with a virus so small your eyes can’t see it has become an economic crisis, so big that you simply cannot miss it.

“The Commission is today proposing a new recovery instrument, called Next Generation EU, worth €750 billion.

“It will sit on top of a revamped long-term EU budget of €1.1 trillion.”

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