ANGELA MERKEL found herself at the centre of controversy when a leaked email revealed that a German civil servant "did nothing for 14 years".

Angela Merkel says EU budget delay is a ‘serious problem’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently marked 15 years at the helm of Europe's top economic power, with her popularity intact and public trust in her leadership reaching new heights. Mrs Merkel has said she will step down when her current mandate runs out in 2021 with plans to leave politics altogether. As she finishes out her fourth term, she will tie Helmut Kohl's record for longest-serving post-war leader, leaving an entire generation of young Germans with no recollection of another Chancellor.

Calls for her to stand for another mandate can now be heard, spurred by the confidence engendered by her steady handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Germany, where infection levels and deaths have remained lower than those of most European partners.

The vast majority of Germans say they trust her "hammer and dance" strategy of tighter and looser restrictions based on rising or falling infection – a decision that she has called "among the most difficult decisions of my time in office".

Her time as Chancellor has seen plenty of controversy, though.

For example, in 2012, a German civil servant admitted he "did nothing for 14 years" in a frank retirement email sent to colleagues.

The man, who at the time was 65 years old, sent a farewell message to 500 colleagues on his retirement day after learning his job was axed due to cuts.

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Merkel shamed: Leaked email exposed German civil servant who 'did nothing for 14 years' (Image: GETTY)

In the email sent to other civil servants in Menden, in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia, he boasted that he had earned €745,000 (£613,000) for doing no work.

He wrote: "Since 1998, I have been present but not really there.

"So I'm going to be well prepared for retirement – Adieu."

The admission that a civil servant could be paid for 14 years without doing any work was extremely embarrassing for Mrs Merkel, as at the time she was leading calls for austerity cuts to the public sector in eurozone countries such as Greece and Spain.

The unnamed man, who had worked in a municipal state surveyor's office since 1974, accused authorities of creating inefficient, overlapping and parallel structures, even employing another surveying engineer to do the same job, leaving him with nothing to do.

He added: "Of course, I benefited from the freedom that came by to me."

He also accused the Menden city authorities of buying unusable computers and software but has since refused to publicly detail his allegations.

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