Angela Merkel, who plans to step down as Germany’s chancellor after the country holds elections in September, is attending her final Group of 7 summit this weekend.
Some things have changed since her first such gathering, in 2007 (leaders are no longer disputing the threat of climate change), but some things have not (Ms. Merkel remains the only elected female leader in the club).
Yet what represents a potentially momentous change is the prospect of Ms. Merkel’s absence from the table — for the leading industrialized nations that make up the group, for a Europe where she has been a dominant leader and by the absence of another elected female leader to take her place.
“Just think of what the picture will look like when she leaves,” said Katja Iversen, an adviser to the Women Political Leaders group, who took part in the gender discussion at the 2018 G7 summit in Canada.
Ms. Merkel has used her mix of clout and charm, and her willingness to negotiate deep into the night, to push issues long overlooked as relevant to the global economy, including climate, sustainability and gender equality.
Now, Germany and the rest of Europe will turn to new leaders to shape foreign policy on issues such as military spending, Russia and especially China.