Merkel in Great Britain: Farewell visit to Queen and Johnson

Status: 02.07.2021 07:26

It should be Merkel's last visit to Great Britain as Chancellor. The reception at the Queen's at Windsor Castle promises to be harmonious. However, the meeting with Prime Minister Johnson holds the potential for conflict.

On what is likely to be her last trip to Great Britain as Chancellor, Angela Merkel will meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson today. It was about deepening German-British relations, it said from the British seat of government.

Merkel speaks to the cabinet

Merkel will speak directly to the British cabinet in a virtual session from Checkers, the country seat of the British Prime Minister. She is the first foreign head of government since US President Bill Clinton 25 years ago to give such a speech. In addition, annual cabinet meetings between the British government and the federal government are to be introduced.

Johnson also wants to create a new academic award in honor of Merkel, named after Caroline Herschel, a German-British astrophysicist. The prize is endowed with 10.000 pounds and is awarded every year to a German or British scientist who has excelled in this field.

Disagreement about how to deal with the delta variant

Apart from these rather symbolic items on the agenda, the planned talks between Merkel and Johnson also harbor some potential for conflict.

It was expected that the spectator regulations will play a role in the finals of the European Football Championship in London. Due to the delta variant of the corona virus, which was rampant in the country, Merkel had already expressed her criticism that, at the instigation of UEFA, London allowed 60.000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, where the semi-finals and the final will be played.

In Great Britain, on the other hand, the fact that the Chancellor was campaigning for stricter entry rules from Great Britain within the EU caused displeasure. In Germany there is a ban on transport and entry from the virus variant area Great Britain. This does not apply to anyone who has a place of residence in Germany or who has German citizenship. Nevertheless, there is a 14-day quarantine. In contrast, the British can travel to other EU countries much more easily.

Merkel advocated a Europe-wide regulation, but has so far failed. In the meantime there are signs that Germany could soon reverse the classification of Great Britain - the spread of the delta variant is also advancing in the Federal Republic. Isolation therefore makes less and less sense.

Common foreign policy and post-Brexit difficulties

Foreign and security policy will probably also be on the agenda - it was only on Wednesday that Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) and his British colleague Dominic Raab signed a declaration of intent on closer German-British exchange on these issues. The British even want to support Germany's desire for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

From the field of Brexit issues, Northern Ireland continues to be a sore point. London and Brussels were recently able to avert an escalation in the so-called sausage war over import regulations for chilled meat products to Northern Ireland, but a permanent solution still seems a long way off.

The background to this is that, according to the Brexit agreement, the British province de facto follows the rules of the EU internal market. This is to prevent goods controls at the border to the EU member Ireland. However, this makes checks necessary when goods are brought from England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland. This creates difficulties in intra-UK trade for which both sides blame each other. Merkel follows the EU position on this question.

Private audience with Queen Elizabeth II.

The private audience of the Chancellor with the Queen at Windsor Castle, on the other hand, promises to be harmonious. After the G7 summit in Cornwall in June, Merkel was particularly touched by the encounter with the monarch and described it as a “unique experience”.

Angela Merkel welcomes Elizabeth II (archive image)

The Queen and Chancellor were already acquainted at this point: the Queen had already received Merkel twice - in 2008 and 2014. A year later, the Queen was visiting Berlin.

With information from Thomas Spickhofen, ARD studio London