Angela Merkel wants Macron to ‘inherit role with China’ says MEP
After 16 years in power the German Chancellor’s leadership is coming to an end. She is set to be replaced after Germans went to the polls on Sunday and voted for their next government and potential Chancellor. While Mrs Merkel will remain in power until a new coalition government is formed — currently looking like an Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and Greens alliance — this is not expected to last long.
After that, what she aims to do next isn’t entirely clear.
Mrs Merkel has spent much of her career as Chancellor helping to create a further integrated EU.
She is by far the longest-serving among EU leaders, having participated in an estimated 100 EU summits — having been dubbed the “Queen of Europe”.
Her hand in the EU has been more than clear: she helped steer the bloc through its 2015 migration crisis, the euro crisis, COVID-19 and was at the forefront of helping to manoeuvre Brexit.
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Now, some political watchers have suggested there may be a job waiting for Mrs Merkel in Brussels.
Dr Alim Baluch, a professor who specialises in German politics at the University Bath, said he could “definitely” see a role for the German Chancellor with the EU.
When asked if this could be a possibility, he told Express.co.uk: “Definitely.
“But the biggest problem right now is that Germany does not want to be seen as the hegemony of the European Union even though it is.
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“The perception is very toxic: Germany wants to be seen as the reluctant hegemony of the EU.
“It doesn’t really want to lead it, it wants to be seen only as a civil power that doesn’t have a big military or nuclear weapons — but if it is forced to take a leadership role, it will take it.
“Now, if Merkel gets an important role in the EU that could become toxic, one has to think carefully about what she could take over.
“We already have Ursula von der Leyen in the EU, so it is a concern for Germany.”
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A recent poll published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) could be a boost to any position Mrs Merkel might find in the EU.
It found that Europeans would rather see Mrs Merkel secure a top job in Brussels over the French President.
Given a hypothetical choice between Mrs Merkel and Emmanuel Macron becoming “EU president” — a job that in real life doesn’t exist — a clear majority opted for the German Chancellor, according to the survey.
Some 58 percent of Dutch respondents, 57 percent of Spanish and 52 percent of Portuguese gave Mrs Merkel support in this fantasy race, compared to 6 percent, 9 percent and 11 percent respectively in favour of Mr Macron.
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Bulgarians were the only group not entirely convinced by Mrs Merkel, with 31 percent supporting her — the same number who said they would not vote at all.
When asked about expectations for Germany after Merkel leaves office, a great deal of skepticism was found on foreign policy issues.
Just 17 percent believe Germany can effectively defend European interests in relations with China.
For Russia the figure was 20 percent, and 25 percent for the US.
Those who responded in France, Poland, Italy and Bulgaria were the most critical of Berlin’s geopolitical positioning.
Within Germany, 52 percent of respondents said the country’s “golden age” was in the past, suggesting the next Chancellor has a lot of work to do.
EU latest: Merkel previously looked to play down speculation she would enter Brussels
Dr Baluch said that while Mrs Merkel’s future is not set in stone, there is an expectation that she will not go into a business role like many other former politicians.
This is because she is seen “as down to earth, not too interested in money, just interested in being Chancellor, trustworthy politician”.
In 2019, Mrs Merkel fuelled speculation that she was looking for a top job in Brussels after she spoke about her “renewed sense of responsibility” for Europe.
However, she quickly played down the comments, claiming she “will not be available for any political office, no matter where, not even in Europe” during a press conference with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.