Merkel warns of ‘centrifugal forces’ in EU, calls for unity

King Felipe VI of Spain (R) after handing in the Charles V European Award to German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) during a ceremony held at the Monastery in Cuacos de Yuste, Spain, 14 October 2021, next to Extremadura's regional President, Guillermo Fernandez Vara (L). Merkel received the Charles V European Award for her dedication and contribution to a better knowledge and dissemination of the cultural, scientific and historical values of Europe. [EPA-EFE/Ballesteros]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of dividing forces in the European Union and issued a plea for more unity across the continent, speaking at an award ceremony speech in Spain on Thursday (14 October).

“Let’s not kid ourselves: Centrifugal forces have been at work in the EU for several years now,” Merkel said after receiving the Carlos V award, saying that such dividing powers arise when the EU fails to fulfil its promises and social and economic differences are allowed to grow too large.

“Europe is only as strong as it is united,” she said.

Without naming names, Merkel, who is set to give up the chancellor role after 16 years once a new German government has formed, added that the EU would be in trouble if national interests were put above its mutual success.

Poland’s top court recently challenged the primacy of EU law, fuelling talk that Poland could one day quit the 27-nation bloc.

Unity is also important in contending with powers outside the EU, Merkel said.

“How we deal with the rise of China as an economic, political and military power … depends very much on whether Europe really speaks with one voice,” Merkel said.

The German Chancellor is making a farewell visit to Belgium on Friday.

King Philippe will receive Merkel for a lunch at Laeken Castle for lunch. On this occasion, the sovereign will award the Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold to the one who has sixteen consecutive years at the head of the German government, the palace announced.

In the evening, a farewell concert will take place at the Palais des Beaux-Arts under the baton of composer and conductor Dirk Brossé.

Other heads of state or government have received Merkel in recent weeks, including Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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