German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Europeans must fight for their destiny in the face of weakening ties with traditional allies such the USA and the UK. Merkel reached this conclusion after the recent G7 summit, in which Trump refused to back the Paris Climate Agreement.
Her remarks, made during a speech in a Munich beerhall, have widely been seen as a sign Germany is ready to push for further European integration and cooperation in the face of Trump’s election, the #brexit referendum and ongoing challenges with Russia.
Here is the key quote from her Munich speech:
“The times when we could completely count on others, they are over to a certain extent. I have experienced this in the last few days. And that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands. Of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain, and as good neighbours wherever that is possible, with Russia and with other countries. But we have to know that we must fight for our own future, for our destiny as Europeans, and that’s what I want to do together with you.” – Angela Merkel
The speech was unusual for Merkel, as although Germany has the strongest European economy it has only somewhat reluctantly taken on a leadership role within the EU over the past few years. In recent months Markel has been far more outspoken, even warning the UK government it was suffering from ‘illusions’ over its approach to the #brexit negotiations.
Of course, with the German election coming up on 24 September, Merkel was primarily playing to her predominantly pro-European domestic audience. But as the only democratically elected world leader with the experience and staying power to rival Russia’s Putin, Merkel is more than aware of the impact her words will have further afield.
Earlier in May, newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron met with Merkel and the two announced they were ready to consider reopening European Treaties in the name of building deeper European ties. It is something of a cruel irony for former UK Prime Minister David Cameron that #brexit could now lead to EU treaty reform, as he tried and failed to negotiate the reopening of EU treaties ahead of the UK referendum. Cameron wanted to rewrite EU freedom of movement rules, something he believed could have ensured the UK voted to stay in the EU.