Merkel rules out future political office in EU or elsewhere

Berlin (AFP) –


Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday ruled out taking on any political office in Brussels or elsewhere after her planned departure as Germany's leader in 2021.

The chancellor had sparked speculation that she may be eyeing a job in the European Union when she told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview on Wednesday that with many people feeling concerned about the continent, she feels "even more duty bound to join others in making sure that Europe has a future".

But Merkel, 64 who has been German chancellor since 2005, stamped out the rumour firmly on Thursday.

"I am not available for any further political post, no matter where it is -- not in Europe either," after leaving Germany's top post in 2021, she told a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

In her two-step plan to leave politics, Merkel last year gave up the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, before stepping down as chancellor when her mandate runs out in 2021.

Announcing her withdrawal last year, the veteran said she hoped it would allow her fragile coalition to finally focus on governing Europe's top economy, rather than lurch from crisis to crisis because of infighting.

But as Europe faces rising populist, anti-EU forces, speculation has grown that Merkel may take on a job in Brussels and use her long-time political experience to steady the ship through rough waters.