Europe at a crossroads: Why Angela Merkel’s departure is just one of the pressing issues facing a troubled continent

After 16 years in power, the German chancellor is standing down. But who will be her replacement, and what are the wider implications for Europe as it grapples with a host of troubling crises?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces US president Donald Trump during the G7 summit on June 9, 2018 in Canada: surrounded by some of the world’s most powerful leaders, Merkel is in the centre of the photo, posed in an unmistakable position of dominance. Picture: Getty

It is a photograph that instantly catches the eye: Angela Merkel at the G7 conference in 2018, leaning over a narrow table with a white tablecloth, her palms laid down flat, her face bearing an unmistakable expression of weariness and frustration.

Shinzo Abe of Japan, to her left, has his arms folded, wearing a grimace, just as weary. Emmanuel Macron, president of France, is over her right shoulder, his knuckles pressed into the table cloth, ...