German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s EU counterparts lined up to pay her tribute on Friday at what may 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 than a decade.
The second day of talks in Brussels was dedicated to digital policy and migration.
But Merkel’s final summit, depending on the outcome of 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 of 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 of stubborn rifts.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that Merkel was a “great politician” who 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.
Hungary and Poland were highly critical of 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.