" For all the EU’s flaws, she does not treat it as a punchbag, but rather as a pillar of peace and prosperity."
This sentence is extracted from the economist, and the link is attached below.
I cannot understand whether "it" refers to "all" or "flaws". If it refers to "flaws", why not use “them”. I remember that my teacher told me when there is an "all", whether using a single verb or a plural verb depends on the following word of "all" which, in this case, is "flaws". If it refers to "all", could you please tell my the reason?
Another question is what the meaning of the metaphor of "punchbag" here? Why flaws can be treated as a punchbag? Does it mean Merkel didn't treat the metaphor as a difficulty?
This is the whole paragraph:
Her personal qualities count for much, too. She has defended Germany’s interests without losing sight of Europe’s; she has risked German money to save the euro, while keeping sceptical Germans onside; and she has earned the respect of her fellow leaders even after bruising fights with them. Most impressively (and alone among centre-right leaders in Europe), she has done this without pandering to anti-EU and anti-immigrant populists. For all the EU’s flaws, she does not treat it as a punchbag, but rather as a pillar of peace and prosperity.