‘We have to act fast’: Calm Merkel promises ‘rapid recovery’ after Germany is

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her nation that a recovery plan will be in place within days, after visiting some of the areas that were worst affected by the country’s floods.

Mrs Merkel, who will stand down as chancellor later this year, visited the village of Schuld, which was devastated, before moving on to the nearby town of Adenau.

There, speaking in front of local residents, she said that there were almost no words to describe what had happened to Germany.

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‘We must make big changes’

But she went on to offer two things that her nation clearly needs. Firstly, a sense of calm and leadership. Secondly, a promise of action.

“I’ve come here today to symbolise that we’re standing together in solidarity,” she said.

“We will fix everything one step at a time in this beautiful area. We have to act fast.

“I am promising you that the government will issue a programme next week so that we can work towards a rapid recovery.”

Mrs Merkel’s public appearances are normally formal and highly choreographed, but this was different. She came in hiking boots, with unobtrusive security.

The message was clear – that even if Germany’s formidable chancellor is about to leave the job, she would lead the response to this crisis.

Mrs Merkel met volunteers in the village of Schuld. Pic: AP
Image:
Mrs Merkel met volunteers in the village of Schuld. Pic: AP

She had been in America, meeting President Biden, when the floods hit, and Germany remains one of the world’s most important, wealthy and influential nations.

Its capitulation to these floods has been heralded as both a demonstration of the impact of climate change, and also of society’s fragility when confronted by natural might.

So I asked Mrs Merkel what lessons the world could take from Germany’s plight over the past few days.

“What we invest into climate change is expensive, yes, but the impact of climate change is even more expensive,” she told me.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel held hands with local politicians in the flood-hit village of Schuld. Pic: AP
Image:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel held hands with local politicians in the flood-hit village of Schuld. Pic: AP

“You can see an example of such flooding incidents here.

“I say, very clearly, that one flood is not necessarily an example of climate change but if we look at the damage from incidents of the last years and decades then these are more frequent than before.

“We must make efforts – big efforts.”

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‘We went into our house and had to swim’

She knows that this isn’t just about empathy and support, but also about politics.

Mrs Merkel has been such a dominant figure in German politics in recent times…



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