“Perceived as the de facto leader of the European Union and the free world,” Angela Merkel is preparing to step down after 16 years in office, she notes. Sightings, according to Rador. Who will replace Angela Merkel as the locomotive of Europe: Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi or Olaf Scholz ?, shows an analysis of the quoted source.

The competition for leadership has begun in 2022, but according to experts, expectations are likely to end in disappointment.

After all, it is possible that no leader will have the capacity to do so on his own. .

Angela Merkel, who will be officially replaced in December by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, has marked Europe by contributing to its cohesion in the midst of a long series of crises.

She is “perceived as the de facto leader of the European Union and the free world,” Sebastian Reiche, a professor at IESE University in Navarre, Spain, said on his blog.

According to a recent survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, European citizens would, if they could, vote 41% for Angela Merkel as President of Europe, compared to only 14% for Emmanuel Macron.

Opportunity for Macron

The French head of state is now being offered a chance, with the springboard of the six-month EU presidency that Paris will hold in January.

Merkel’s departure could allow the French vision of Europe to develop, an ambition backed by President Macron since he came to power, “said Alexandre Robinet-Borgomano in an analysis published by the Montaigne Institute.

“French President Macron is leading the race” to take over European leadership, “although his self-proclaimed attempts to give the European Union a clear political goal have so far been hampered,” said Helen Thompson, a professor at Cambridge University, in a recent article in ” New York Times “.

“Super Mario”

The Franco-Italian treaty he just signed with Mario Draghi did not go unnoticed in this context, at a time when new alliances are being made in post-Brexit Europe.

All the more so as the head of government in Rome, nicknamed “Super Mario” after his time in charge of the European Central Bank, is also considered a potential candidate for European leadership.

“Mario Draghi could fill the void left by Angela Merkel in his capacity as a consensus builder” in the EU and, contrary to Merkel’s approach, he could instil new dynamism in European economic or defense integration, “he said. AFP Nicoletta Pirozzi, from the think tank Istituto Affari Internazionali de la Roma.

However, in 2022, Mr Draghi could aim for the post of head of state with limited prerogatives.

The French president will face a difficult year 2022 internally, with a presidential election in the spring, with an uncertain outcome, especially facing the far right.

France could therefore be seized by internal political turmoil, hampering its ability to develop great European visions.

And Olaf Scholz? In Germany, long known as the “Great Switzerland” for its propensity to focus on its economic prosperity without engaging too much in major international issues, directions are changing.

“We want to increase the strategic sovereignty of the European Union” and better defend the “common European interests”, the new government’s coalition contract emphasizes.

To succeed, Olaf Scholz, who presents himself as the heir to Chancellor Angela Merkel – the number two in the government so far – will still have to change.

He will have to break with “Merkelism”, this diplomacy of the constant search for compromise, the expectation in crisis and the priority given to economic interests, including with totalitarian regimes like Russia and China.

Because this system is reaching its limits. “Merkel should not survive” because it does not “solve Europe’s challenges well, such as the pandemic, climate change and international geopolitical competition,” said Piotr Buras and Jana Puglierin in their ECFR analysis. European External Relations Agency).

Headless Europe?

Is Emmanuel Macron, a supporter of stronger solutions, best placed in this context?

“Even if Macron’s leadership remains an option (…) it is unlikely” because of the difficulties it will have to build the necessary “alliances”, warns Professor Sebastian Reiche. Paris is often suspected of wanting to use Europe to support its own interests.

Helen Thompson is even more pessimistic.

“Weakened by the rivalry between the United States and China, deeply divided internally (…) the European Union cannot be ruled at present, no one will become a new Mrs. Merkel,” said the Cambridge professor.

“The reality, to put it bluntly, is that neither the German Chancellor nor the French government can lead Europe (…) and in the absence of leadership Europe is heading for stagnation,” she said.

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