Former European Commission president Jacques Delors warned on Thursday that too little was being done to stop Europe and the euro sliding towards disaster.

"/> Former European Commission president Jacques Delors warned on Thursday that too little was being done to stop Europe and the euro sliding towards disaster.

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Delors: ‘Europe and euro on brink of abyss’

Former European Commission president Jacques Delors warned on Thursday that too little was being done to stop Europe and the euro sliding towards disaster.

Delors: 'Europe and euro on brink of abyss'
Remi Jouan

In a hard hitting interview with Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper and Switzerland’s Le Temps, he criticized the outcome from Tuesday’s summit between German chancellor Angela Merkel and her French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Open your eyes: the euro and Europe are on the brink of the abyss,” he said. “To avoid falling, the choice looks straightforward to me: either member states accept the robust economic partnership I always demanded, or they transfer additional powers to the Union.”

The response of the two leaders, in his view, had been “vague and insufficient.”

Jacques Delors is a veteran of the political scene whose opinions still carry a lot of weight in France.

He served as finance minister under François Mitterrand from 1981 to 1984 and was president of the European Commission from 1985 to 1994. Le Figaro described him as “the father of modern Europe” in its coverage on Friday.

Delors’ daughter is Martine Aubry, a former minister herself and architect of France’s 35-hour week legislation. She is currently running to be selected as the Socialist party candidate for the presidential elections in April 2012.

Delors was particularly critical of the plan to create a pan-eurozone finance minister. In a barely concealed swipe at the EU’s head of foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, he doubted the impact the proposal would have.

“Does European diplomacy work any better since the creation, through the Lisbon Treaty, of a pseudo ‘EU foreign minister’?” he sniffed.

Delors supported the idea of eurobonds, which was rejected by Merkel and Sarkozy in their Tuesday meeting. The French Socialist party has also called for eurobonds to be issued.

“Right since the start of the crisis, Europe’s leaders have failed to see the reality in front of their eyes,” he said.

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Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.