Armin replaces Merkel as Europe’s most powerful leader

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Armin Laschet and Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel’s CDU successor will continue as EU’s chief paymaster 

GERMANY will continue as the European Union’s “paymaster” only with less influence under Angela Merkel’s successor, an MEP has claimed.

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German MEP Gunnar Beck said Armin Laschet, the new leader of Germany’s CDU, will struggle to wield the same sway in Brussels. Mr Laschet, who is now in line to succeed Mrs Merkel as chancellor after the parliamentary elections in September, pipped conservative rival Friedrich Merz to the leadership of their party last weekend. But Mr Beck claimed the new CDU chief would be extorted for Germany’s vast wealth by fellow EU leaders looking to cash in.

He told “Laschet won’t have the kind of status Germany has enjoyed for many years now. He can grow into this, that’s possible, but it takes some time.

“Merkel’s role has been that of an honest broker… a kind of paymaster broker. Most of the deals she struck, were struck by paying up.

“Laschet, I suspect, will do exactly the same. He’ll be a paymaster in order to try and attain a certain degree of influence.”

Mr Beck, a member of the anti-establishment Alternative for Germany party, said Friedrich Merz would have “demanded more in return for his money” in negotiations with the EU compared to his rival.

Armin Laschet
Armin Laschet is the CDU of Germany’s new leader 

He added: “Laschet isn’t going to be like that, he’ll just pay – and that’s bad for Germany.”

Mrs Merkel was well known for using Germany’s position as the EU’s top economy, and highest contributor to the bloc’s budget, to stave off a series of crises.

Most recently, she agreed to splash out to guarantee the €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund for the hardest-hit regions and industries by the pandemic.

As the EU’s largest economy, Berlin is the biggest contributor to both the bloc’s budget and Covid bailout.

And this could increase further with Mr Laschet said to be even more ambitious when it comes to the European project than Mrs Merkel.

He once criticised the Chancellor’s government for not being ambitious enough in regards to the EU.