Federica Mogherini, John Kerry, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk
Ms Merkel, 69, has said she will resign by the end of September after more than 12 years in office, leaving Germany facing its most important political and policy transition in two decades.
President Joachim Gauck and Germany’s political parties have given their backing to Mr Scholz as Ms Merkel’s successor, although he will face only a general election later this year.
Mr Scholz was born in the state of Saarland, in western Germany, and studied journalism in Duesseldorf before starting his career in state and municipal government.
He has held a variety of ministerial portfolios including economics, labour and employment, state secretary in Mr Merkel’s government and head of the Hamburg regional government.
Ms Merkel was the first member of her party to nominate Mr Scholz for her CDU nomination, saying he is the right man to lead the party at a time of crisis and reconciliation.
“We have not had a successor for a long time and I am reluctant to leave the Bundestag for this long,” she said.
In an interview, Mr Scholz said the importance of unity in Germany has risen in recent years as he began work in the Hamburg regional government during the election campaign and saw first-hand the dramatic effects of migration.
“The biggest task is to restore the sense of how we are all linked by Germany,” he said.
“In Hamburg we were aware how divisive this decision was for many people here,” Mr Scholz added, referring to the city’s central location and traditions which have seen it attract refugees from wars in the Middle East.
A former Catholic school teacher, Mr Scholz is reported to be a firm believer in states’ rights, although he does not have an appointment for the Catholic Church in his party.
Mr Scholz’s wife Heike has worked as a medical researcher in Berlin and the couple have two sons.