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Auf Wiedersehen: Merkel attends her swan song EU summit


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© Reuters. German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media during her arrival at an EU Leaders Summit in Brussels, Belgium on October 21st, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

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Johnny Cotton

BRUSSELS (Reuters – European Union leaders will pause at their Brussels meeting on Thursday to capture a goodbye photograph with Angela Merkel. Merkel is likely to be attending the final of nearly 100 summits in her 16 years as German chancellor.

Since her December 2005 first EU Summit, the doyenne in European politics has been seated at the conference table alongside four French presidents and five British prime ministers.

As today, with Poland challenging EU supremacy, the row was hot between the members of the bloc.

The French president Jacques Chirac had a heated exchange with Tony Blair, the British prime minister. They were arguing about the EU budget.

Merkel’s pragmatism was what defined her approach when she arrived in Germany. She told reporters: “We want the negotiations to begin now, and I believe we will make every effort for an agreement.”

Merkel is a master of corridor diplomacy and has been able to find crucial compromises over time in order to end EU conflicts.

Merkel is most associated with the crisis that saw an increase in migrants arriving in 2015. Merkel opened Germany’s borders in 2015 to refugees mainly from Syria and Afghanistan.

Merkel arrived in special summit to call for European unity after Hungary built a wall along its Serbian border. She repeated her “wir schaffen die” slogan.

She stated, “Faced by a huge challenge, Europe can not say, ‘We cannot handle this,’ that would be very wrong.”

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Prior to her chancellorship, she led the effort in the Euro zone crisis response. In the meantime austerity policies were creating resentment among the southern members states like Greece.

Merkel, herself, was often the target of street demonstrations. Merkel is sometimes depicted on posters, placards, and other materials from Athens through Lisbon as a Nazi with Hitler moustache.

However, it is possible that Thursday’s “family picture” featuring leaders of the EU’s 27 member countries marking Merkel’s departure could prove to be too premature.

German political parties are in negotiations to form a government coalition since the election last month. Merkel, 67 years old, will then be returning to Brussels for her 108th EU summit if they do not succeed.

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Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.