As the election approaches, Macron seizes control of the EU.
On Saturday, France assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union, giving President Emmanuel Macron the opportunity to position himself as the EU’s de facto leader ahead of national elections in April.
The 44-year-old has made no secret of his desire to be the driving force behind more European integration, working as a vibrant sidekick to Germany’s more steady chancellor Angela Merkel in Europe’s power couple over the past four years.
With Merkel’s retirement and the gift of the rotating chair of the EU Council beginning January 1, Macron has promised an ambitious agenda for the 27-member organization that might potentially help him win re-election at home.
In a New Year’s Eve national address, he praised the EU’s role during the Covid-19 crisis, saying, “The year 2022 must be a turning point for Europe.”
“You can count on my total dedication to ensure that this moment, which comes around every 13 years, is a time of progress for you,” he said of the French president.
The centrist is hopeful that his Europhile beliefs, which were a crucial component of his political campaign when he won the presidency in 2017, will help him win the April 10 and 24 elections.
“The EU presidency provides him with a welcome platform to highlight his European record, distinguish himself from his opponents, and bring fresh suggestions, new ideas to the table,” said Claire Demesmay, a Berlin-based specialist at the Marc-Bloch think-tank.
Struggling on the world stage has long been a favored strategy for any French president.
“Nothing pleases the French more than the image or perception of France being ‘at the controls,'” said Pierre Sellal, a former French diplomat at the European Union mission.
On New Year’s Eve, France lighted iconic buildings around the country, including the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, in the blue of the EU flag to commemorate the start of the six-month presidency.
Others have pointed out that the French presidential logo features the letters U and E for “Union Europeene,” as well as a grey arrow in the centre that looks to form another letter, a sideways M for Macron.
Each European country has a chance to hold the Council’s rotational presidency, which allows the member state to define the official agenda for fellow leaders in the bloc (within constraints) and organize meetings. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.