An era ends: How will Germany and the world remember the Merkel years?

Press quote (The Local)
Christian Odendahl
13 September 2021

For Christian Odendahl, the Berlin-based chief economist at the Centre for European Reform, Covid-19 also showed how Merkel’s crisis management evolved over time, learning from past mistakes. “She misunderstood the euro crisis as a debt crisis when it was so much more than that,” he says. “The difference in how she reacted to the euro crisis and how she reacted to the pandemic is, I think, quite telling.”

From the Chancellor who was often accused of lecturing Europe about the evils of public debt and overspending during the euro crisis, Covid-19 saw Merkel open government coffers in unprecedented ways. Her government passed domestic stimulus packages worth over a trillion euros, and put up the largest single share of money for the EU’s 750 billion euro recovery fund. “It was a very bold, forward-looking, Europe-focused crisis response – undertaken very quickly,” says Odendahl.

...“The fact that our public train operator is in a dismal state, that is a legacy of Angela Merkel, full stop,” says Odendahl. “The pandemic also put into focus the dismal state of German digitalisation in public administration. A lot of effort had to be put in to compensate for that.”