Berlin (dpa) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Brexit a “wake-up call” in a newspaper interview published on Thursday, as she addressed threats to the multilateralist approach that has defined her time in office.
“I see the European Union as our life insurance,” Merkel told Britain’s Financial Times. “Germany is far too small to exert geopolitical influence on its own, and that’s why we need to make use of all the benefits of the single market.”
The long-serving chancellor, who is set to exit politics next year, stressed that supranational institutions like the European Union and United Nations were “essentially a lesson learnt from the second world war, and the preceding decades.”
The EU and UN have come under fire in recent years, as well as the NATO defence alliance, not least from US President Donald Trump.
Merkel conceded that reform was necessary in these institutions. “There is no doubt whatsoever about any of that,” she said. “But I do not call the world’s multilateral structure into question.”
The Christian Democrat called on the EU to become “attractive, innovative, creative [and] a good place for research and education” in response to Brexit, speaking ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc on January 31. “Competition can then be very productive.”
Addressing Germany’s cooling relations with the US, Merkel argued that this was “structural” and not necessarily down to Trump’s presidency.
“The United States’ focus on Europe is declining — that will be the case under any president,” she said, arguing that Germany in particular should take on “more responsibility” to counter the shift.