merkel speech munich Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

Angela Merkel’s Challenge to Europe

The German chancellor's recent speech, at a campaign stop near Munich, in which she called on Europeans to "take our fate into our own hands," did not amount to a rejection of Europe's transatlantic alliance with the US. But it could have far-reaching implications for Germany's role in the EU and in the world.

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has never been regarded as an especially inspiring orator. In fact, she has a reputation for gently talking her audiences to sleep. But that all changed a few days ago. While campaigning in the Munich suburb of Trudering, Merkel, speaking from a beer tent, delivered a powerful speech that dominated headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

With Whitsunday fast approaching, many wondered if Merkel had been inspired by the Holy Spirit. If not that, she may have been spurred to action after having spent many hours in the company of US President Donald Trump during the recent NATO and G7 summits. And Germany’s upcoming federal election undoubtedly loomed large in her mind.

But Merkel’s speech was no mere “beer tent Goslar.” She was not emulating former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who, campaigning in the town of Goslar in January 2003, declared that Germany would not participate in the Iraq War, regardless of whether it had the United Nations Security Council’s backing. There was far more to Merkel’s Trudering speech than mere electioneering.

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