Friday, June 08, 2007

Merkel Makes Her Mark

Following yesterday's compromise deal on climate change, there's been further agreement between the leaders at the G8 summit in Germany. This time it's Africa that's going to benefit, to the tune of 30 billion quid to fight AIDS, malaria and TB. It all doesn't go far enough of course, but then the nature of these problems means it's never possible to go far enough. The fact the leaders have decided to go as far as they have is all down to the summit's host.

This week's winner has undoubtedly been Chancellor Angela Merkel. While Putin and Bush may have taken all the headlines in the lead-up to the summit, as they indulged themselves in a bit of old-fashioned Cold War nostalgia, she's the one who's focused on trying to get something reasonably solid out of the talks. Much as Tony Blair did at Gleneagles two years ago, she's acted as the G8's conscience, and made sure of agreements of sorts on the important issues.

Chancellor Merkel's one of the newer G8 leaders, and with the even-fresher faced Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown she'll be at the centre of shaping the way Europe and indeed the world works in the next few years. With Putin and Bush both on their way out in the next 18 months, that trio has an opportunity to become a driving force behind genuine progress on things like aid and tackling climate change. And for all the promises Ms Merkel has secured this week, it'll be results that count.

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