Why Macron hesitates on his pro-European agenda?

“Our system based on freedom in which we have become accustomed to living, sometimes when we need to defend it, it can involve sacrifices… Faced with this, we have duties, the first of which is to speak frankly and very clearly without pessimism,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a rather candid and outspoken tone during the first cabinet session after the traditional August recess. Macron was referring to the impending food and energy crises. which suddenly enveloped Europe – as well as the world – due to the simultaneous convergence of the project and the invasion of Ukraine at that time.

Re-elected in April, Macron, arguably the most pro-EU French president ever, is trying to take advantage of a relatively pro-EU coalition government in Germany, after 16 years of Merkelism, to advance his campaign. so adored. for deep European integration with renewed enthusiasm. Macron is absolutely right in his approach when it comes to his timing as the opportunity for a major leap forward in European integration probably looks more auspicious now than it has at any time since the fall. of the Berlin Wall. Geopolitical circumstances, notably the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which forced NATO to take Finland and Sweden under its aegis, are apparently quite favorable for profound changes. This timing perfectly suits Macron’s ambitions to enroll in the European political class.

Interestingly, despite such a favorable alignment of positive factors, Europe seems to be uncertain about its future direction – the extent and pace of its integration. One obvious factor is the scars left after leaving the UK. The EU is still struggling to redefine its new relationship with London after deciding to cut its ties with Brussels. At the same time, it remains unclear whether the bold and generous monetary intervention during the COVID-19 crisis was the first step towards the emergence of Europe’s own fiscal federalism or whether it was not. than a straw fire. Macron’s pro-European rhetoric was a hallmark of his first term and he used it consistently throughout, but with little success. Macron had a very ambitious European agenda, but most of his efforts during his first term ended in fumes and his rhetoric could not yield any tangible results.

Aftermath of the pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed two pungent realities: first, Europe’s outsized economic dependence on the international network, and second, the urgent need for European solidarity and cohesion. The invasion of Ukraine, for obvious reasons, further heightened this unfelt “desire for unity” since the euro crisis and catapulted Europeans into the reality of their discouragement. Macron’s methodology, quite forceful in its essence, certainly prompted his other EU colleagues to shake off their denial and complacency, but he failed to convert this into some sort of robust coalition front.

The chasm between his rhetoric and his execution was clearly exposed at the June EU meeting, where Macron faced one of the toughest setbacks to his EU theme since Msesberg’s failed statement there. exactly two years old. His call for deeper European integration received a very lukewarm response and his new phrase “European Political Community” was completely ignored by other participants. The same treatment was given to his attempt to broach the subject of the reform of the European treaties, and even this subject was removed from the agenda of the meeting without flinching.

Two basic flaws

There are two fairly obvious fundamental flaws in his vaunted European policy: vagueness and unilateralism, or self-projection. These two key factors have been responsible for its failure so far to carve out a “role” in the EU’s internal establishment. There is a long list of his botched attempts to win the support of other European leaders over the past four years for his long series of pro-European “initiatives”. In 2019, he launched a very acidic attack on the NATO bureaucracy by calling it a “brain dead” entity, which did not go well with his advocacy to form the new European security architecture. During his election campaign in 2019, he came up with the idea of ​​a conference on the future of Europe with the intention of launching deep institutional reforms. But this idea has been watered down by other European leaders, showing complete indifference.

Similarly, in December 2021, he co-wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Times with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, in which they called for the creation of a new form of EU governance. But, much to his disappointment, this “new thinking” also went unnoticed at the very pompous Versailles summit in March this year. Subsequently, on May 9, his overambitious speech in the European Parliament on the same subject was also ignored and received a disastrous response. Within days of that speech, opposition rose to 19 out of 27 countries for ideas that could have – with more preparation, logical reasoning and increased diplomatic efforts – garnered outright support. The vagueness of Macron’s European vision is quite palpable. Contrary to Germany’s prescribed vision of building the association on the model of a standard federal state, Macron refrains from using the word “federal” because of the possible backlash at home. At the same time, Macron is also unsure to what extent he is willing to sacrifice France’s veto powers in order to make this club more democratic for smaller countries and whether France is willing to transfer most of its powers. executives to the “federation” – European Commission – and let the European Parliament break and overlap the French constitution in the event of a conflict of interest.

ride alone

The second problem with Macron, like all other neo-populist politicians, is that he always seems to take a “solo flight” on the international stage; whether it’s EU enlargement or the invasion of Ukraine, he always throws an idea in the air and then seeks support, which he often fails to catch up with. after. Instead of discussing and selling his ideas to selected influential European leaders first in order to anticipate possibilities of fierce resistance from other members of the club, Macron still tries to go it alone in an ostensible effort to project himself as a man. strong and visionary state that is appropriate enough to lift the European Union out of the current discouragement.

Ironically, Macron’s approach is widely seen as a selfish, self-projecting attempt to reshape the EU in France’s image and interests. The recent poor performance of his coalition in the legislative elections has also conversely forced Macron to desperately seek success in the international arena, particularly with regard to European integration, to boost his image at home. Macron’s ambiguous – but ambitious – vision of a strong sovereign Europe clashes directly with his domestic political agenda, where voters have a visible aversion to a “federal Europe”. Macron is still unable to find a viable equation to balance his domestic political constraints and his ambitions to carve out a strong role for himself in the European political community. The current drought, food crisis and looming winter crisis have complicated matters for an openly ambitious Macron, who has spent more time gambling on the international stage in a bid to earn points to quell mounting internal pressure.

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