Angela Merkel’s speech to the European Parliament yesterday regarding the future of Europe reminded one of why, despite her undeniable mistakes, she will be missed by Europe after she leaves the German Chancellery. She will be missed because Europe is confronted by a strong wave of nationalism and populism, against which a wall must be raised.

Merkel’s statement that “nationalism must not pass” places a little stone in the building of that wall, as does the reminder that toleration is the soul of Europe. A Europe that indiscriminately closes its borders to whoever seeks to pass them in order to escape the pain of war is, simply put, not Europe.

Equally important is her support for the creation of a European Army and her proposal to create a European Security Council.

In a world that seems more divided and unstable than at any time after the end of the Cold War, the creation of a protective shield is a fundamental duty. Defence and security are the preconditions for freedom.

The German government’s insistence on fiscal discipline through strict austerity certainly played a role in the burgeoning of a wave of populism. Greece and Italy are the most characteristic examples.

One cannot but recognise, however, that the Chancellor at this difficult juncture worthily undertook the role of leader of the free world.




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