What Angela Merkel meant at the Munich beer hall
Alluding to difficulties with Donald Trump and Brexit, German leader says EU can’t ‘completely depend on others.’
After a G7 summit haunted by Brexit and dominated by Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is betting on European unity.
“The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent,” Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich on Sunday, before adding, “That’s what I experienced over the past several days.”
“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands — naturally in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain, as good neighbors with whoever, also with Russia and other countries,” she said to applause from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to her Christian Democrats.
“But we have to know that we Europeans must fight for our own future and destiny,” she said.
While Merkel has in the past called on the Europeans to take on greater responsibilities, her comments came just a day after her return from the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily.
There as well as on Thursday in Brussels, European leaders had tense, tense, sometimes awkward interactions with the new U.S. president. At separate events in Brussels on Thursday, Trump publicly lectured NATO allies for not spending enough on defense and called Germany “very bad.” Leaders of the G7 group of established democracies failed to reach a consensus on sticking to the 2015 Paris climate accords, with Trump saying he would decide on America’s participation in the treaty this coming week.
In power since 2005, Merkel herself faces reelection in September. Over the past two months, she has beat back a resurgent Social Democratic opposition and widened her lead in the polls to double digits.
Despite the lack of a deal on the Paris accord and other disagreements, the German chancellor said she intends to maintain good “neighborly relations” with both Britain and the U.S., and “also with Russia,” though she made it clear that from now on Europe would be fighting for its future on its own.
On Saturday Trump posted on Twitter that he would make a decision on whether the U.S. would remain part of the climate change accord next week, once he has returned to Washington. The other six members of the G7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. — reaffirmed “strong commitment” to the agreement, which Barack Obama signed in 2015.
During a meeting with EU leaders on Thursday Trump described Germany as “bad, very bad,” according to according to Der Spiegel. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn later clarified the comments, saying that the U.S. president was referring to German trade and not condemning the country as a whole.