Criticised at home for her migration-friendly remarks in Davos two years ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to offer a certain degree of regret over how the migrant crises of 2015-16 was handled.
“We were always proud of freedom of movement but we never really thought about protecting our external borders. Now we’re working on our entry-exit system… But shutting ourselves off doesn’t help to protect borders. You need good agreements with neighbours.”
Merkel also said that isolationism and protectionism are not solutions to the economic challenges facing countries around the world.
She told the audience that she was open-minded about what kind of partnership the European Union would develop with the UK after Brexit, but noted that there could be no compromise on the EU’s core principles in those talks.
“We want a close partnership with the United Kingdom,” she said.
Merkel was also very critical of her own country. Although economically strong, Germany lags behind other countries in digitisation.
“We do not have time to lose. Germany is not a leading nation in this area. We are faced with two problems: everything works well, so that many do not see the need for digitization, and we have an aging population, which limits the willingness to make big changes. ‘ Here too, international cooperation can provide a solution, for example through the digital single market. This is urgently needed, because large American and Chinese companies are collecting more and more data while Europe is doing little. ‘We are threatening to stay behind because we lose time with philosophical discussions’.
She also cited the “disruptive changes of technology” is shaking up society and worrying people.