Monday

19th Aug 2019

Analysis

Macron's summit debut could kickstart Franco-German motor

  • They could be the new powerhouse of Europe, especially if Merkel is re-elected in September (Photo: elysee.fr)

A month and a half after his election, which was met with a huge sigh of relief in Brussels, French president Emmanuel Macron will be the centre of attention for his first EU summit on Thursday and Friday (22-23 June).

The 39-year-old new leader was described by one senior EU official as “a visible sign of hope and vitality of the EU”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"It [Macron's election] was certainly a moment that everyone was waiting for, a kind of reconfirmation of Europe, and the change of atmosphere here in Brussels was tangible,” another EU diplomat said.

At the two-day summit, EU leaders will get their first sense of whether the Franco-German powerhouse is back.

The Berlin-Paris motor has had a long pit-stop under former socialist president Francois Hollande, who had often attempted to champion himself as the leader of the “Club Med” of southern EU countries.

With an energetic Macron joining German chancellor Angela Merkel in the driving seat, and eurosceptic Britain out of the way, the speed of European integration could go into acceleration.

In his invitation letter to EU leaders, European Council president Donald Tusk wrote that "current developments” indicate that the EU is “slowly turning the corner”.

Merkel and Macron already said last month at the new French president’s first visit to Berlin that they would draw up a new "roadmap" for deeper integration in Europe, including a more strongly bound-together eurozone.

The two leaders have even gone as far as expressing support for the laborious and politically sensitive issue of opening up the EU treaties to change, in order to entrench those new reforms into the law.

Germany, the reluctant leader of Europe, seems eager to enlist Macron’s support for its EU policy of deeper integration. Macron also needs Merkel’s backing for his reforms.

Many EU diplomats are holding their breath, waiting to see if the tandem is back.

“In the past, 36 hours before European Council [summits] you had French-German proposals that were hard to resist," an EU source said, referring to the years of the eurocrisis when former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Merkel would agree on joint proposals and enlist the support of the rest of the EU leaders at summits.

"Member states will look at it quite closely if there will be a perfectly tuned German-French motor,” the official noted, adding: “But we are not there yet."

But not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of a re-energised EU core.

Fractured EU?

Some member states, particularly in central and eastern Europe, fear that this would mark the beginning of a de facto multi-speed Europe.

In this model of differing speeds of integration, many EU countries feel they could be left behind. Some simply do not want to move towards more integration, whereas others cannot due to constitutional or political barriers.

Nevertheless, Macron will be meeting the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4) - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - on Friday morning.

It is expected to be a “get to know each other” meeting. There will be a range of issues on the agenda, where Macron and the V4 do not see eye-to-eye, such as the issue of posted workers.

“We will listen very carefully to the discussion among Paris and Berlin, we understand there is an ambition to start moving faster,” one EU diplomat said cautiously, adding that the French president first needs to deliver his reforms, which will be difficult.

The official said that once Macron delivers, the German-French motor of integration could move very quickly. But it would have implications for everyone, he warned.

"If the engine works too well, it is not always best for the EU, if it doesn’t work at all, it is equally bad for the EU. We hope they will be wise enough to control their speed,” the EU diplomat said.

He might not be able to walk on water - as Macron was portrayed as doing on the cover of the Economist last week - but the new kid on the block will certainly be watched closely in every EU capital.

Analysis

Macron faces challenges after foretold victory

French president is expected to win a three-fifths majority in parliament on Sunday, but he will have to manage an unruly group of MPs in a socially unstable country.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetite for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us