The message came from Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who represented the liberal German PBF in the European Parliament between 2004-17. He is now a member of the German Federal Parliament and vice-chairman of the FBP parliamentary group.

Speaking to the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, Mr Lambsdorff said the current situation in the EU is “not good for Europe”.

Ms Merkel has announced that she will step down in September, when a new German parliament is elected.

Criticizing her record, Mr Lambsdorff said: “Ms Merkel is not leaving the EU in good shape.

“She made the mistake of wanting to determine Russia’s policy with Emmanuel Macron.

“On this subject, however, the Finns, the Balts [Baltic states] and we must ask as much of the Poles as of France.

Mr. Macron and Ms. Merkel had offered to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, that decision was blocked earlier this week at a stormy EU summit.

Poland, Finland and the Baltic states opposed the summit, arguing Putin would see it as a sign of weakness.

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She commented: “Personally, I would have liked to have taken a bolder step here.

“But it’s that good as it is, and we’ll keep working on it.”

Mr Lambsdorff also criticized Ms Merkel for her handling of Viktor Orban, the autocratic leader of Hungary.

Hungary recently passed a controversial law restricting LGBT education for children.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has suggested that Hungary should be expelled from the EU.

Mr Lambsdorff commented: “I can understand Mark Rutte’s righteous anger at this Hungarian law which violates human rights.

“But the Hungarian problem has dragged on for far too long, because the ruling party in Hungary was until recently part of the family of Christian Democratic parties in Europe.

“What we are seeing now is therefore just the tip of an iceberg, which Merkel simply ignored for a long time.

“In this regard, the explosion of Rutte is for me an expression of desperation, because legally it is difficult, if not impossible, to exclude a country from the EU.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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