Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected in December as the new leader of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and is a natural successor to Merkel, and is expected to continue her style of steady and pragmatic leadership.
Merkel's forthcoming departure from politics will be a loss to Europe as she has been a long-standing leader of the region and something of a moral compass for Europe, despite criticism of her decision to allow over a million migrants, mainly of Syrian origin, into Germany in 2015.
There is no obvious replacement for Merkel as Europe's figurehead with her counterparts in Western Europe, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Italy's government all experiencing political turmoil. Indeed, Merkel's comments on Wednesday are likely to be seen as a rebuke to the nationalistic practices of some European nations as well as President Donald Trump's "America First" policy.
Merkel said that Germany faced "three big challenges ahead" that were also applies to the wider world: the transition to sustainable energy, the creation of a digital infrastructure and the better management of migration.
"My fourth point is that we can only make progress if we abandon this way of thinking that we can go it alone, "she said, going on to speak about Brexit. Brexit, she said it was in Britain's hands to decide what kind of brexit it wanted when it exited the EU on March 29.