In an interview just two weeks before Britain exits the bloc, Germany’s chancellor said Europe needed to up its game to compete.
The union needed to become more “attractive, innovative, creative, a good place for research and education,” she told the Financial Times.
She added, “Competition can then be very productive.”
The enigmatic German leader has said little about Brexit. Last year she broke her silence to warn that Britain was a potential competitor to Europe after it left, The Independent reported.
But she defended the principles of the European project and issued a veiled warning that the UK could suffer from diminished influence outside the union.
“I see the European Union as our life insurance,” she told the newspaper.
“Germany is far too small to exert geopolitical influence on its own, and that’s why we need to make use of all the benefits of the single market.”
Merkel argued that international institutions like European integration were “essentially a lesson learnt from the second world war, and the preceding decades" whose memory is fading.
Germany’s leader since 2005 and a contemporary of Tony Blair, Merkel is serving what she has said will be her last term as chancellor.
Having already stepped down as leader of her center-right CDU party to make way for a successor, the chancellor said she will not contest the next Bundestag elections, which are scheduled for 2021.