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Angela Merkel’s acute warning ahead of Apec meeting with Jacinda Ardern

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OPINION:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss the state of the world with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at next week’s Apec CEO Summit.

Their conversation comes at a momentous time in global affairs. Not only are political leaders grappling with the Covid pandemic, but they are having to confront their own responsibility to face up to the climate change imperative and rising nationalism.

At the United Nation’s COP26 conference in Glasgow this week, Merkel backed carbon pricing as an effective tool for combating climate change: “The European Union already has this kind of pricing model for the industrial sector. Others, for example China, are introducing this now,” she said. Concrete ways to “measure our targets and goals” to “provide us with a yardstick”, are necessary.

Merkel is in the final weeks as Germany’s Chancellor after nearly 16 years in the role. She will stand down once her successor can assemble a ruling coalition. Plaudits have flowed as her exit nears:

The EU without Merkel would be like “Paris without the Eiffel Tower”, enthused one European politician.

The Chancellor has said after she leaves politics, she wants to “perhaps travel a bit or read, or simply enjoy some leisure time knowing that no possible upheaval may happen in the next 20 minutes”.

But before she leaves office she has issued an acute warning. The world is in danger of forgetting the lessons of World War II and the foundations of peace in modern Europe are at risk of erosion. She has railed against some EU members for succumbing to the “false temptation of acting in a purely national way”.

At the Apec CEO summit, Ardern and Merkel will discuss the global recovery and consider opportunities for Apec and Europe to work together as the world builds back after the global pandemic.

Drawing on her experience in Germany and within the European Union, Merkel will discuss how co-operation and collaboration is the key to progress, while also providing a view of the Apec region and its issues from the position of a European leader.

After a period of stagnation, Covid is rising dramatically again in Germany, even though much of the population is vaccinated.

Merkel is worried the return of “a certain recklessness” has led to the climbing Covid infections and death rate

She has been Chancellor of Germany since November 2005. She is the first woman and the first East German to hold this office.

In foreign policy, Merkel has emphasised international cooperation, both in the context of the European Union and Nato and strengthening transatlantic economic relations. In 2008, Merkel served as President of the European Council and played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. Merkel played a crucial role in managing the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the European debt crisis.

The conversation between the two leaders will be facilitated by Microsoft president and vice-chair Brad Smith.

Smith plays a key role in spearheading Microsoft’s work on critical issues involving the intersection of technology and society, including cybersecurity, privacy, artificial intelligence, environmental sustainability, human rights, immigration and philanthropy.

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