Isolated, Macron is even more dangerous

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Too bad, if you can, Emmanuel Macron under siege as he begins the last six months of what he still hopes to be the first of two presidential terms. In recent weeks he has suffered repeated facial losses in his efforts at home and abroad – something taken more seriously in France than in Britain, especially in an election year. His reactions, each time, were more sullen than those of a statesman – something his political rivals took advantage of, even when they agreed with his reproaches.

Meanwhile, in a suddenly heated presidential race, Macron’s former Brexit negotiator in Brussels, sober (some say boring) Michel Barnier, more loyal to the Elysee line, threw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination by attacking very European principles. , in particular on the preeminence of the judgments of the ECJ over French law, which formerly made it so effective against the British teams. As Macron gives in to the awakening pressure to condemn the murder of Algerian pro-independence protesters in 1961 – a move historically grounded but nonetheless calculated to win him the votes of ethnic minorities next year – Barnier demands a comprehensive five-year moratorium on l immigration to France.

It’s been over a month, but the president is still feeling Australia’s about-face, after years of negotiations, in abandoning a € 56 billion French submarine contract in favor of an Anglo consortium. -Australian-American. It’s not just the huge loss for the French treasury at a time when the national debt exceeds 130 percent of GDP. Or the refusal, by an “Anglo-Saxon” consortium to recognize that France has an Indo-Pacific presence, with French departments scattered throughout the territory, giving it the largest expanse of territorial waters on the planet. It is the obvious lack of confidence in France’s reliability as a geostrategic partner in an alliance to contain China. All of this makes sense, but is diminished by regular bouts of presidential petulance.

For the past four and a half years, Macron, a man more enamored with intellectual pyrotechnics than any grounded political position, has tried to be everything for every voting block on the spectrum, as two pranks created the Macron Meme Bingo, with boxes containing presidential quotes. He understands his claim that France committed “crimes against humanity” during the colonization of Algeria (2016) to praise the puppet leader of Vichy, Marshal Pétain, as a “great soldier” (2018); or that France is the start-up nation of entrepreneurs (2017) but needs a grand nine-year plan to rebuild its tech industries with massive top-down public investment (2021). Yet the only thing Macron has never varied on is Europe.

But even in Brussels, it is more and more isolated. Macron, surprisingly, still takes Brexit personally after five years, probably because he has always staked a large chunk of his political capital on Europe. He sought to play hard with the British on fishing and had hoped the EU would play along. But his minister for the sea, Annick Girardin, had his first harsh French ultimatum on fishing licenses relaxed in Brussels before 11 coastal members of the EU will not agree to sign a joint document to try to find a solution to the fish wars in the English Channel 10 days ago. . Yet yesterday morning there was more talk of a new two-week “ultimatum” to Jersey’s fisheries regulators.

This, to say the least, is not popular in Brussels. Macron increasingly appears to austere commissioners and their cautious Brexit political advisers as a reckless subordinate, always ready to push things to the limit. The EU does not believe in Count Schlieffen’s doctrine of being able to wage a war on two fronts. Their main concern is the Northern Ireland Protocol, the danger of a resurgence of unrest and the potential serious damage to Ireland, another EU country, if it collapses. Their position is that a handful of licenses for an industry that represents only 0.06% of the French economy and 0.1% of that of the UK is not the hill someone should die on, and France is making an inordinately loud noise. This voice of reason does not seem to be heard in Paris.

The result is that Macron’s long-held dream of becoming Angela Merkel’s anointed successor as the de facto leader of the EU quickly fades away.


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