France tries to revive the “Macron effect” in Europe


The Head of State will present Tuesday his plans for reform of the European Union before the Parliament of Strasbourg.
The world | 16.04.2018 at 16:45 • Updated 17.04.2018 at 12:05 | By Cécile Ducourtieux (Brussels, European office)

Relaunching the dynamics of reforms in the European Union (EU) as she runs out of steam seriously. This is the objective of Emmanuel Macron’s exercise in the European Parliament, Strasbourg Tuesday, April 17, in a speech followed by a much-awaited debate by MEPs. The intervention is an important moment for the President, who has put the transformation of the EU at the heart of his strategy. But six months later to have saluted his speech at the Sorbonne, other European leaders are increasingly reluctant to to follow the ambitious road he had then traced. The status quo is threatening, one year before the European elections in May 2019.
Mr. Macron should underline in speaking out how crucial the moment is for the EU, surrounded by multiple challenges: an unpredictable American partner, the Russia more and more menacing, the war in Syria … “The idea is not to redo a speech from the Sorbonne, but to insist on the urgency to to act , the need to develop a democratic European model “, we insist on the Elysee.
Follow Macron’s speech live with our local reporter:

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Faced with the disorders of world , “The Europe does it want to assert itself, or on the contrary stay in position of defense ? This is a fundamental debate, insists a Brussels diplomat. The la France Macron has chosen voluntarism: it strikes in Syria, wants Brussels to respond to threats of taxes on steel and aluminum of the American president, Donald Trump , and insists that the GAFA, champions of tax evasion, be subject to a specific tax.
But the other leaders do not show as much enthusiasm. In September 2017, however, many had welcomed the Sorbonne’s speech and its dozens of proposals (carbon tax at the borders, transnational lists for the Europeans, revival of the integration of the euro zone, etc.). But the context was different: in Brussels, it was hoped that Emmanuel Macron’s victory would stop the rise of populists in Europe.
It has not been: in Austria the juvenile prime minister Sebastian Kurz has allied himself with the far right. In Hungary Viktor Orban was triumphantly re-elected on hate speech against Brussels’ migrants and technocrats. In Italy the March elections led to the victory of the populist formations, the 5-star movement and the League.
And the indispensable German partner took three to four months more than hoped to Paris for dispose a government in working order: the SPD-CDU (social-democratic and conservative) coalition is still discovering European issues. With Berlin, discussions on the eurozone come from to start . Olaf Scholz, the new minister of finances , all social Democrat he is, has so far made no statement that he will take the opposite footing of the rigorous positions of his predecessor, Wolfgang Schäuble.
The French have already revised their ambitions downward, abandoning their idea of ​​a euro zone parliament and “No one is seriously discussing a finance minister from the eurozone” adds a Brussels diplomat close to the Eurogroup. But they value their idea of ​​a specific budget. He could be backed by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the relief fund created during the crisis for come in help to the Greece or to Portugal , but it is not sure that it passes the bar of the conservatives of the CDU.
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German Green MEP Sven Giegold leaked on Saturday (14 April) Twitter , a position that the CDU and its Bavarian partner CSU wish to defend in the Bundestag on 17 April, calling for condition ambitious reform of the ESM to an improbable reform of the EU treaties, which amounts to claim his abandonment. This position “Contradicts the spirit of commitments [coalition with the SPD] and in comparison, Schäuble’s dogmatism seems almost progressive. ” regretted the German Udo Bullmann, leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament.
The meeting job between Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, scheduled for Thursday 19 April in Berlin, for try of form a common position on these topics before June will be crucial. “If there were a blockage in the euro zone, we would not be at this second meeting. you ” since the end of March, in Paris, do we want believe at the Elysée.
German “hawks” can count on the Netherlands who took the lead in a group of states (Baltic and Nordic) hostile to Mr Macron’s plans on the euro area. This “Hanseatic League” refuses to hear speak of a specific budget of the eurozone or anything that could lead more financial solidarity between the North and the South of the Union. “The Dutch are the new Germans of the Eurogroup”, says the Brussels diplomat.
Inaction, particularly in Germany, risks give additional arguments to the eurosceptics for the May 2019 poll. And, in France, the competing lists of LRM. “The game will not be easy,” already feared a heavyweight government in February, anticipating the difficulty of a “deal” with Berlin. The French president has certainly managed to to weigh on the European agenda, but it does not have much to its credit, apart from the significant progress on the revision of the Posted Workers Directive which was finally adopted in the Council (Member States) beginning April. Or the progress towards an integrated European defense, made in December 2017.
“The game will not be easy”
On the other hand, his idea of ​​transnational lists for the Europeans was sharply repressed by the parliamentarians of Strasbourg in February. The GAFA tax, supported by the European Commission, stumbles on the opposition of the Ireland , from Malta or Cyprus . The project of a European trade strategy more focused on the defense of the industrial interests of the continent has been partly overshadowed by the threats of President Trump de trigger a trade war with the rest of the world.
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“Now is the fate of the Union. We will move forward with those who will moving forward those who do not follow will have to accept to stay at the margins of the EU “, warned Mr. Macron during the debate with Mediapart and BFM-TV, on Sunday, April 15, emphasizing his vision of a “Sovereign Europe” and ” who protects “.
On Tuesday, President Macron will also formally launch its citizens’ consultations on Europe, during a first debate in Epinal. A return of the exchanges is planned at the end of October, before the official launching of the campaign of the Europeans. of the proceedings of the same type have already started in Croatia . The Spain Malta, the Germany and the Czech republic should quickly follow. This French initiative is modest but, for the moment, it is the only one that really makes unanimity in the Union.


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