During the former Chancellor’s 16-year tenure – which ended last month – she was credited with navigating the bloc through numerous crises from the 2008 Global Crash to the coronavirus pandemic. Mutti – as she is often referred to – was credited with prompting liberal democracy and keeping member states with often very different objectives singing from the same hymn sheet.
Under her successor Olaf Scholz, this consensus quickly disintegrated – even within Germany itself, according to commentator Andreas Ernst.
He claimed that with Mr Scholz heading a coalition Government comprising of his business-friendly SDP and the Greens – who are striving to reduce Germany’s reliance on imported Russian gas – consensus government will be harder.
Mr Ernst wrote: “The European federal state is a pipe dream of the German traffic light coalition. There are better alternatives for European security policy
“The big break with the Merkel era will not take place in the EU. But Berlin could forge powerful foreign policy coalitions instead of always insisting on the minimum consensus of all.”
“German interest-led politics should only be carried out within a European framework. But what does that mean?
“The coalition agreement is not aimed at the European partners. Its addressees are home audiences and the party base.
“What really matters when it comes to political implementation is the balance of power in the governing coalition.”
He explained that the competition between the red Chancellery and the green Foreign Office is so “striking they are not even trying to hide it”.
Referring to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine – which Vladimir Putin seems poised to invade – he claimed Nato and the EU are seen as “spectators”.
He suggested the real actors are US President Joe Biden and Mr Putin.
Should the invasion materialise, Germany’s foreign policy could move towards France – which has traditionally treated Russia as more of a threat, he said.
Even if this happens, it “does not yet mean that significant steps towards a common foreign and security policy will be possible”, Mr Ernst explained.
He said: “The decisive gap in the union of states is not the one between France and Germany.
“It is the Eastern Europeans – or more precisely: the Poles and the Balts – who have a completely different perception of their Russian neighbours.
“For historical reasons, they see a permanent, existential threat in Russia – and rely on the American nuclear umbrella as the only effective protection against it.
“That is why they are fundamentally suspicious of an independent European security policy. They fear being cut off from the United States.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg