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Vail Symposium to discuss Angela Merkel’s leadership and legacy

Virtual event is Thursday, March 4

Vail Symposium convenes locally while thinking globally. On Thursday, the Vail Symposium presents a free Zoom webinar with experts discussing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is stepping down this year. (Special to the Daily)

After 15 years, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is stepping down in 2021 and her four-term tenure is one of the longest in Germany’s post-war history. But her legacy is complicated.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, Constanze Stelzenmüller, Ph.D., a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, will join the Vail Symposium to discuss where Germany is, and where it is heading. Joining her in conversation is Karen Donfried, Ph.D., president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Register for the free Zoom webinar at vailsymposium.org.



“We have wanted to host a geopolitical program focusing on Germany for some time,” said Claire Noble, Vail Symposium director of programming. “With Chancellor Merkel stepping down in August, now seemed like a great time to consider her impact and how Germany moves forward without her; we have a pair of top experts to do just that.”

Merkel will be known for her leadership but even her most admirable decisions have had unintended downsides, such as the decision to let in a million refugees in 2015, which did not lead to a notable increase in Islamist terrorism but fueled the rise of the far right. By putting Germany’s economic weight behind a historic, debt-financed European recovery program in the pandemic in 2020, she may have helped save the European Union. But she has also struggled to manage relations with great powers like Russia and China — and clearly, the shift from the Trump to the Biden administration isn’t easy either.



Her heir-presumptive at this point is her conservative party’s new leader, Armin Laschet. But whether he will actually make it to the finish line is not clear yet. In addition to change in its own leadership, Germany will encounter new leadership in Washington, an EU without the United Kingdom and an emboldened and aggressive Russia.

About the speakers

  • Stelzenmüller is an expert on German, European and trans-Atlantic foreign and security policy and strategy. She is the inaugural holder of the Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. From March 2020 to December 2020, she was a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe. She held the Kissinger Chair on Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress from October 2019 to March 2020. She served as the inaugural Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at Brookings from 2014 to 2019.

Prior to working at Brookings, she was a senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she directed the influential Transatlantic Trends survey program. Her areas of expertise include: transatlantic relations; German foreign policy; NATO; the European Union’s foreign, security and defense policy; international law and human rights.

  • Donfried is president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening transatlantic cooperation through policy analysis, fellowships for next-generation leaders and support for civil society. GMF is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has seven offices in Europe.
If you go …

What: Angela the Almost-Great? An Examination of German Chancellor Merkel’s Legacy.

When: Thursday, March 4, 6-7 p.m.

Where: Zoom webinar online.

More information: This program is free. Register at vailsymposium.org.


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