Features

Macron’s vision for Europe

The French president has a plan to renew the EU. Matthew Partridge reports.

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Macron: nul points

Eighteen months ago the French president "laid out a sweeping vision for a stronger EU", only for it to be "greeted with a shrug by a German government", say Ben Hall and Victor Mallet in the Financial Times. With European elections only weeks away, he has had another stab at it.

On Monday Emmanuel Macron published an "address to Europe", proposing reforms to immigration, defence and trade to make a Europe that "better protects its citizens, companies and values". His most radical proposals include a Europe-wide minimum wage and making membership of the Schengen area "conditional on acceptance of common asylum rules and procedures", an EU border force and sharing the burden of refugee inflows.

A mixed reaction

The problem is that while Europe does need reform badly, Macron's strategy of "dumping random new ingredients in the soup" is "at best quixotic and at worst harmful to the European cause", says Bloomberg. If Macron wants to achieve anything worthwhile he should ditch his grand vision and focus on getting other major countries, such as Germany, to agree to "a unified set of realistic, solid proposals".

Such joint proposals "would show centrist voters what they should expect in return for their support". As it is, Macron looks like he is "throwing everything at the wall to see what will stick", and risks "providing more ammunition for rival parties opposed to more European integration".

What Brexit Britain will miss

Macron may think that his "full-throated defence" of the EU will "show the British what they are missing", says Asa Bennett in The Daily Telegraph. But Brexiteers "should be pleased" with his plan, "as it vindicates their decision to leave the bloc". Macron's obsession with "taking more power from voters in the name of the European ideal" is why "voters decided to leave". "Brexiteers should thank him for being so blunt as he is constantly reminding them that they made the right choice."

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