EU Leaders Bid 'Auf Wiedersehen' To Merkel At Her Likely Final Summit
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's EU counterparts lined up to pay tribute to her on Friday at what may well be the conservative stalwart's final summit following almost 16 years in office, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
Photo Insert: German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchanges pleasantries with French President Emmanuel Macron as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks on.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg hailed her as a "great European," Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called her a "compromise machine" and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said she had "truly marked Europe" for more than a decade.
The second day of talks in Brussels was dedicated to digital policy and migration. But Merkel's final summit - depending on the outcome of ongoing German government coalition negotiations - after more than 100 looked set to be relatively unspectacular.
A late dinner on Thursday failed to produce a breakthrough on energy prices or on a rule-of-law dispute with Poland. Merkel is renowned as a deft dealmaker, able to get all 27 states on board and get important decisions over the line despite stubborn rifts.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that Merkel was a "great politician" who had intervened at "critical moments and helped us find the solution," citing last year's tough negotiations over the European Union's long-term budget and the shared post-pandemic recovery fund as an example.
Despite the plaudits, Merkel has fielded serious criticism from other leaders at times. Hungary and Poland were highly critical of her relatively liberal stance during a huge influx of refugees in 2015. Her name is also closely associated with unpopular debt-crisis-era austerity policies in Greece and Italy.