Macron’s vision of europe

Macron's vision of europe

Photo: French Government / CC BY-SA 3.0 FR

At the Sorbonne, France’s president lays out ideas about where the EU should go in the next decade

Macron always made it clear that he is a European politician. In his speeches after the election as French president, the EU flag was always in the picture. Schon im Wahlkampf gegen Marine Le Pen sprach er davon, dass die EU reformiert werden muss. It should become more effective, simpler, less bureaucratic and more transparent, he claims. This requires a vision and a debate.

After Juncker laid out his vision for the future of the EU in his keynote speech just a fortnight ago (see The Euro as a Rescue from the Euro Crisis), Macron today presented his ideas for the future to an audience at Paris’ Universitat Sorbonne.

Of course, he aimed his ideas at the "Re-grounding" (refondation) of the EU to a far cruder and more powerful set of addressees. The question is how much attention or importance his vision will receive in relevant political circles. The most important addressees are Berlin, Angela Merkel and an institution that does not yet exist: the new German government. It can take weeks for the difficult coalition partners to negotiate a deal.

Genau in diese Situation hinein zielte Macron nach Ansicht franzosischer Medien. He wants to present a direction before a Berlin coalition agreement has already narrowed the scope and he is counting on Merkel’s support.

The surprise element of Macron’s vision also lies more in the timing than in the content. Six "main axes" presented the French president. The basic ideas have all been raised before in one form or another; what is new is that they are being put into context and put forward under the umbrella of a rough project by someone who is serious about it. Macron had already hinted at some things beforehand. In the development bath of recent weeks, a few contours have now emerged:

  1. For a common EU defense policy, Macron proposes a joint intervention force, a common defense budget and a common doctrine. The intelligence service should also get a European academy.
  2. For a common migration policy that pays attention to control, the French president advocates a reform of the European asylum law, the creation of a European asylum authority and a European border police. In addition, he wants a "European public prosecutor’s office" create a new system to improve the fight against terrorism.
  3. Future development policy, especially toward Africa, should be paid for by an expanded financial transaction tax.
  4. To finance the ecological transition, Macron wants to introduce a CO2 tax at Europe’s borders. He also advocates a reform of the "reform of the European trade in carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution rights. A price of less than 25 to 30 euros per ton of CO2 is not sufficient, he said. The current price on the stock market is around seven euros".
  5. For the "digital transformation" He wants to create a European authority for innovation, so that Europe has more financial resources for research. In addition, he spoke out in favor of strengthening copyright.
  6. Financial policy: Macron renewed his proposal to set up a euro finance minister and create a separate euro budget.

Especially the last point causes excitement. Particularly since Macron is supporting the budget of the euro zone with "several" percentage points of the countries’ economic output", what he called "Minimum solidarity" described.

"This is an unimaginable amount of money, hundreds of billions of euros are involved", comments the FAZ. "A Euro-finance minister is supposed to be in charge, the control over the use of tax money, the royal right of national parliaments, would be undermined." Macron’s plans for an EU social fund, harmonization of minimum wages and common corporate taxes are probably not only viewed with detachment there.

It will be interesting to see who in the EU, whose member countries are currently more attentive to national sovereignty rights, is willing to compromise in order to be part of the project of deepening the euro zone.

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