Macron: Expert discusses ‘European Project’
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Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, said France will use its EU presidency in the first half of next year ahead of the French presidential elections to “promote its ideas of Europe”.
But, Mr Grant warned officials will need to produce “concrete deliverables” to help Mr Macron win.
Mr Grant wrote: “France will use its EU presidency in the first half of 2022 to promote its ideas on Europe.
“Fortunately for Macron, many of the key people in Brussels are sympathetic to France.
“Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission President, Charles Michel, the European Council President, and Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Policy, owe their jobs to Macron’s support.”
Mr Grant then added: “French officials say the first three months of their EU presidency must produce ‘concrete deliverables’, to help Macron to win re-election.
“They talk of progress on European defence, making a success of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and starting to reform the EU’s fiscal rules.”
In his article, Mr Grant outlined three reasons why Mr Macron will be “Europe’s pre-eminent leader” for several years.
He claimed Mr Macron is “brimming with ideas on the future of Europe” and how he will have more “heft” than the new German chancellor after Angela Merkel retires.
But he then added: “A second reason is Brexit.
“The UK led the EU’s economic liberals in resisting France’s penchant for protectionism and an active industrial policy.
“Now the Dutch sometimes try to lead the Nordic, Baltic and other pro-market countries, but with less authority.”
He added how France has become “more influential” in the European Parliament and Mr Macron’s MEPs “are the largest component of the centrist Renew Europe formation, one of the three groups that run the Parliament”.
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But securing re-election in France will be difficult for Mr Macron, as his far-right rival and Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen has seen support for her party increase following the President’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, former EU negotiator Michel Barnier urged Mr Macron to learn from Brexit lessons or France could follow Britain and leave the Brussels bloc.
Mr Barnier warned the EU and France should not be complacent amid “social unrest” across the bloc.
He said France could be next to leave the EU if they do not heed Brexit warnings.
Mr Barnier told a conference on Brexit and the future of the EU in Le Touquet, near Boulogne: “We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves.
“It’s now too late for the UK but not for us.
“Let us ask ourselves: why this figure of 52 percent at the referendum?
“52 percent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the union.”
He continued: “We can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions…citizens who want to leave the EU.
“They say the EU did not respond to legitimate desires of citizens, there is social unrest or anger, one might say, because there’s no protection of external borders, some people say, immigration flows are impacting us…and Europe is also often criticised for its red tape and complexity.”
In January Mr Barnier said other EU nations need to “draw lessons” from Brexit and understand why the British public voted to leave.
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