Germany's Angela Merkel said yesterday she would be unavailable for any further political office after serving out her fourth term as chancellor, dismissing speculation that she could take a big European Union job in Brussels. "I am not available for any further political office, regardless of where it is - including in Europe," Merkel told a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Merkel, Europe's longest-serving leader, last year gave up the leadership of her center-right party and said she wouldn't seek a fifth term as chancellor. She said then that she won't seek another political job after she leaves office, whenever exactly that is. Nonetheless, periodic speculation has flared about the possibility of Merkel seeking a top European Union job, the latest round stirred by an interview in which she said she's concerned about Europe and has an "even greater feeling of responsibility" to work with others on its future.
Speculation about Merkel's future swirled in Berlin after she told yesterday's edition of the Sueddeutsche newspaper: "Many people are concerned about Europe – including myself. This means I feel even more duty-bound to join others in making sure that Europe has a future." She made clear at the news conference that she saw it as her responsibility to promote Europe in her job as chancellor rather than in a future position.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently said he thought it possible that Merkel would move to Brussels. "I cannot imagine that Angela Merkel will disappear into obscurity," he told Germany's Funke media group at the end of April.