European-wide survey finds respect for Merkel, fears for future

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel


A new report based on survey carried out across 12 EU states said that the Germany’s outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, was held in high regard.

The survey said that there would have been more conflict in the world if she had not been in office.

The survey, which was conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), said that well over a third of Europeans favour more German leadership within the EU.

It said 36 per cent of those questioned said that they trusted Germany on economic and financial policy, and 35 per cent said they trusted Germany to stand up for human rights.

Germans themselves, however, appeared to have reservations about their role within the EU, and were found to be pessimistic about Germany and its status in the world.

The ECFR found that more than half, or 52 per cent, of Germans now think that their country’s golden age was behind it.

Across Europe, Germany’s credibility as a potential geopolitical leader is low: Only about one fifth of citizens across the polled member states believe Germany can lead the EU in its relations with Russia.

Even fewer, 17 per cent, think Berlin can defend EU interests when dealing with China, while just 25 per cent trust Germany to handle Brussels’ relations with Washington.

Merkel herself continues to be highly respected in spite of her advocacy of austerity measures in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, and her handling of the 2015 refugee crisis.

The report suggested that EU citizens believed that there would have been more international conflict if Merkel had not been chancellor, an opinion that was held most strongly in Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal.

And she was regarded as a strong potential candidate for the presidency of the EU in the future, being seen as a unifying force.

The ECFR’s report, Beyond Merkelism: “What Europeans expected of post-election Germany,” argued that the next German government would have to provide clear ideas to combat the breakdown of the rule of law within the EU.

It would also have to work hard to retain the trust Germany has earned during the Merkel era.

The ECFR’s survey covered 12 EU member states which have a combined population of 300 million and account for 80 per cent of the union’s GDP. (dpa/NAN)