The swollen tongue was not completely absent. When Emmanuel Macron addresses the European Parliament on Wednesday morning, it is about “the return of tragedy to history”, “a shared emotion among our European treasures” and the “elusive proof of peace”. But compared to the great speeches on Europe he gave earlier, the French president in Strasbourg this time was remarkably discreet and really concrete.
The ambitions for the French presidency of the EU (the next six months) launched by Macron are great, but instead of perspectives, the president was able to point to very concrete proposals that France wants to materialize in the months to come. It is common for a presiding country to put its own spin on the European agenda. But the fact that France is now succeeding in doing so illustrates how perfectly legislation in the EU pipeline fits the French agenda. Recently, after Brexit and in a more hostile geopolitical environment, Europe has already become “French”, and this six months Macron can reap the benefits.
For example, Wednesday, it could refer to new EU legislation binding large US tech companies and which France wishes to complete in March. Or for of ‘CO2border control’, which is part of the EU’s climate program but is now getting an extra boost from France. Or on the plan the minimum wage in a stronger European context anchoring and adjustment.
These are all existing European plans, but at the same time they fit perfectly into the “more autonomous”, more powerful and at the same time more social EU that Macron envisions.
The French president is also in a hurry. If he succeeds in finalizing the proposals in March, he can still benefit considerably in his own country during his electoral campaign. The first polls will take place in April. This high pressure is already making teeth cringe among MEPs and diplomats in Brussels. Those involved fear that the laws are being passed purely for public relations purposes and that much remains unclear about precise details and elaboration.
The Ukrainian crisis and relations with Russia saved Macron until the end. Macron, calmly enough, came out in favor of dialogue, suggesting that there is still room for weeks to deliberate on a common European position. At the same time, he left no doubt that the agreements made between Russia and the West thirty years ago still apply. Anyone who violates these agreements must be punished effectively.
Macron has been calling for dialogue with Russia for years. History and geography link the EU and Russia. “Our continent is indivisible. We need this dialogue.
After the fall of the Wall, the West reached agreements with Russia on the distribution of powers within Europe and the principles that go with it: borders are inviolable, countries are sovereign and spheres of influence are n no longer exist. Europe must now defend these principles: whoever violates these principles can count on sanctions.
In the weeks to come, Europe should present proposals for a new order of security and stability. The French president first wants to work out these proposals with other European countries, then discuss them within NATO, then start negotiations with Russia.
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