German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to address journalists following a meeting with German parliamentary groups and ministers to discuss the so-called Brexit referendum at the Chancellery on June 24, 2016 in Berlin. / AFP / John MACDOUGALL
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Britain's decision to leave the European Union puts German Chancellor Angela Merkel at center stage as the bloc seeks to preserve its unity and win back skeptical voters across the continent.MerkelGermany traditionally has been reluctant to exert an overt leadership role in Europe, though it has been increasingly assertive in recent years in designing the response to the eurozone's debt troubles and, less conclusively, in seeking an EU-wide response to the influx of refugees and other migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere.Guntram Wolff, director of the Bruegel think tank in Brussels, said Britain's EU exit, or Brexit, will mean issues can no longer be addressed by shifting coalitions of France, the U.K. and Germany. Instead, it would increase the dependency between France and Germany – the traditional motor powering EU integration, but one that has sputtered somewhat over recent years amid differences on the debt crisis and other issues.Britain was the No. 3 destination for German exports last year and was Germany's fifth-biggest trading partner overall.Germany also will be losing a fellow major contributor to the EU budget.
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