January 11, 2017
Macron's European agenda
Emmanuel Macron is the most pro-European among the presidential candidates, though will he really be ready to confront the Germans and change the course of the eurozone? We have our doubts, but he is the only candidate with at least an explicit eurozone agenda. In his speech at Humboldt University in Berlin yesterday he promised that, if elected, he would propose a common eurozone budget for investment and financial assistance in case of shocks. At the EU council in December 2017 he would propose democratic conventions in all EU countries for 6-10 months. EU countries should have "a debate on the content of the EU’s actions, its policies and the priorities it should have," and the result should be "a roadmap for Europe" with a list of actions that states want to implement in the areas of defence, security and fiscal convergence. We need more sovereignty, more European sovereignty, he said.
He also set himself the target to increase the number of young French taking part in the Erasmus programme to 200,000 per year by 2022, and to re-establish bilingual classes in France. He argued for common policies on cyber-defence and managing refugees and migrants. He advocated a reenforced Schengen, starting with 5,000 more Frontex personnel. All worthy points, but not a big-bang proposal for European integration either.
Macron acknowledged that rebuilding trust between France and Germany is key and that, if the economic imbalances inside the eurozone are not addressed, the euro won’t last for another 10 years.
One interesting point we picked up is that he said in Berlin there will be candidates from his movement "En Marche!" at the legislative elections in June.
We note that his Berlin speech did not make headlines in the French press. They were more interested in comparing Macron with the Socialist candidates or to François Fillon, or in the question whether Macron exaggerated his arguments. There is a clear national bias in reporting, as we have observed so many times in the past.
The Front National took the chance to pick up on the point that Macron gave his speech in English rather than French. Pauvre France, tweeted Marine Le Pen. Florian Philippot writes it only shows Macron's disrespect for the French language, and that he does not believe in France.
The latest Ifop poll for Paris Match shows Marine Le Pen (26%) advancing to the pole position for the first round, overtaking Francois Fillon (24%). Macron comes third (17%), far ahead of the Manuel Valls (10.5%). Le Pen is still expected to lose in the second round against Fillon (64% to 36%) or Macron (65% to 35%). We agree with François Heisbourg, who tweet that this is a wildly unpredictable election.