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Merkel champions multilateralism, warns against protectionism at Davos

Wednesday, 24 January, 2018 - 19:01

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended multilateralism as a way to stop the rise of protectionism globally at the World Economic Forum (WEF) She was addressed the forum hours before the arrival of US President, Donald Trump, on a day marked by the presence of the main European leaders at the Swiss resort.

“Germany wishes to be a country that lends its contribution in the future to solve the problems of the world together, we think that shutting ourselves off and isolating ourselves will not lead us into a good future. Protectionism is not the proper answer,” said the chancellor.

“I wonder: have we really learned the lessons of history, of the catastrophes provoked by man in the 20th century? Actually, I do not think so,” she added.

Merkel said that the European project is the best response to these protectionist pressures and noted the “new impetus” that the election of Emmanuel Macron in France has given to bloc.

The German leader admitted that the EU is deficient in terms of a common defence and external policy, to be able to respond “with a single voice” to other major global players, such as China or Russia. “Europe has not been sufficiently active up to now” in terms of defence. “We have to take responsibility for our future, to assume destiny in our hands,” the Chancellor concluded.

Merkel agreed with the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, who hours earlier denounced the problem of social problems caused by polarisation and political fragmentation in Europe. “Inequality is still increasing, reaching intolerable levels, even now that growth has returned. We can not end up in a world with a cosmopolitan elite and an army of dissatisfied workers, “he warned. To avoid this, “we must respond positively and decisively to the call for a stronger Europe. Our history and our roots are not synonymous with protectionism,” said the Italian president.

Merkel insisted on sending “a clear and united signal to China, India, the United States and other major economies. And we will fail if we do it separately. “