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Macron Initiatives as France Takes EU Presidency

After Merkel, France could try to edge out Germany as Europe's `superpower' | CNBC |

Macron is likely to attempt to become Europe's central figurehead once Merkel leaves, analysts say, and has been positioning himself to achieve that for a while.

One thing that might mollify Germany, Brzeski noted, was that it knows that Macron has his own presidential battles to come, with a French presidential election due next April.

"This will leave less time for strong European leadership initiatives, even though France will have the EU presidency next year," Brzeski said.

    France will use its EU presidency in the first half of 2022 to promote its ideas on Europe. Fortunately for Macron, many of the key people in Brussels are sympathetic to France. Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission president, Charles Michel, the European Council president, and Josep Borrell, the High Representative for foreign policy, owe their jobs to Macron's support. They are at the very least open to French thinking. In Frankfurt the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, happens to be French.

Analysts say Macron would likely favor working with Scholz over Laschet, the candidate put forward by the ruling conservative CDU-CSU bloc as a successor to Merkel.

"Of the two leading Chancellor-candidates, sources in the Elysee suggest Macron would be comfortable with either man, but has a slight preference for Scholz, who has already, as federal finance minister, worked closely with Paris on the ground-breaking EU post-Covid recovery fund."

Economic clout

While Macron might find he's compatible with the next German chancellor when it comes to a common approach to EU policy, one area where France would find it hard to equal Germany is in terms of economic clout.

In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, almost a quarter of the EU's gross domestic product (24.7%) was generated by Germany, followed by France (17.4%) and Italy (12.8%), ahead of Spain (8.9%) and the Netherlands (5.8%), according to Eurostat.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte has a dented ego after a number of domestic political failures. He was not well liked by both Merkel and Macron and attempts to be the liberal voice for the "smaller" EU States. The Dutch are seen as the Anglo-American doormat into the EU. However, the Dutch are very dependent on Germany's economic power.

The UK led the EU's economic liberals in resisting France's penchant for protectionism and an active industrial policy. Now the Dutch sometimes try to lead the Nordic, Baltic and other pro-market countries, but with less authority than did the British.

Dutch-German relations under Merkel: achievements & threats

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Sep 25th, 2021 at 07:48:51 AM EST

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