EU leaders bid farewell to Merkel at likely final summit

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s EU counterparts lined up to pay her tribute on Friday at what well be the conservative stalwart’s final summit after almost 16 years in office.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg hailed her as a “great European,” while Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called her a “compromise machine.’’

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said she had “truly marked Europe” for more a decade.

The second day talks in Brussels was dedicated to digital policy and migration.

But Merkel’s final summit, depending on the outcome the ongoing German Government coalition negotiations after more than 100, looked set to be relatively unspectacular.

A late dinner on Thursday failed to produce a breakthrough on energy prices or on a rule law dispute with Poland.

Merkel was renowned as a deft dealmaker, able to get all 27 states on board and get important decisions over the line in spite stubborn rifts.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that Merkel was a “great politician” had intervened at “critical moments and helped them find the solution.

He cited last year’s tough negotiations over the European Union’s long-term budget and the shared post-pandemic recovery fund as examples.

In spite the plaudits, Merkel has fielded serious criticism from leaders at times.

Hungary and Poland were highly critical her relatively liberal stance during a huge influx of refugees in 2015.

Her name is also closely associated with unpopular debt crisis era austerity policies in Greece and Italy.