German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a standing ovation, on Friday, from EU leaders, marking her final European summit after 16 years as the bloc’s most influential leader.
“You are a monument,” the convener of the summits, European Council chief Charles Michel, said according to an official in the room.
An EU summit “without Angela is like Rome without the Vatican or Paris without the Eiffel tower,” Michel added after Merkel’s 26 counterparts gave her a standing ovation.
Moreover, he handed Merkel what was described as an “artistic impression” of the Europa building, a contemporary glass-topped cube where summits are hosted.
On his part, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called the German Chancellor a “compromise machine” who “usually did find something to unite us” through marathon intra-EU negotiations.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called Merkel someone who has left her mark on Europe for the past 16 years, adding that she helped all 27 leaders to take the right decisions with a lot of humanity at times that were difficult.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said he hoped Merkel, a “great politician”, would remain on the political scene “in one form or another”.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg called her “undoubtedly a great European” and “a haven of peace, if you like, within the European Union”.
Her departure, he said, “will leave a hole”.