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Merkel waved goodbye with 150 euro gift and ovation

But what do you give as a parting gift to someone who has been around longer in the EU circus than any other leader? Who played a decisive and restraining role at crucial moments? The “mother” of the EU summits according to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, “a stateswoman” according to former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and who, in the opinion of former EU President Herman Van Rompuy, has saved the EU from “existential crises”?

What complicated the choice of gift is that the jewel – in accordance with the EU rules for business gifts – may not cost more than 150 euros. In the past, outgoing leaders were sometimes given a sign on which EU colleagues put their signatures. But those end up straight in the filing cabinet or in the junk attic, EU officials know.

Gift to yawn

In the end, EU President Charles Michel opted for a miniature of the Europa building, where leaders meet. So that Merkel can be reminded again and again of the many (night) hours she spent there.

To avoid tedious discussions about first- and second-class EU countries – already a sensitive point in Eastern European member states – from now on every leader who resigns (after lost elections or upon retirement) will receive the miniature replica. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven received one on Friday. For Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the new arrangement comes just too late. And if a leader returns to the EU table? Not unusual, elections are sometimes won. Then he or she will not receive a new statue on the next departure, it is not a collector’s item.

Merkel’s farewell itself was sober. Michel spoke highly of the whole EU family and there was a special ‘best of Merkel in Brussels’ video. “You are a monument”, said Michel. “Your wisdom will be missed.”

Afterwards she received an ovation of applause from her colleagues, which according to those involved visibly moved her. Merkel does not like big parties, which is why many leaders have already said goodbye to her personally. Prime Minister Rutte visited her in Dresden in September.

Merkel waved goodbye with 150 euro gift and ovation
Source link Merkel waved goodbye with 150 euro gift and ovation

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