Tribune. One of the main markers of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term will undoubtedly be Europeanism. The speeches made and the symbols used by the President of the Republic on the subject of Europe were daring, from the evening of his electoral inauguration, on May 7, 2017, at the Louvre, when he appeared in front of the French people under the notes of theOde to Joy.
In rhetorical and iconic terms, Macron has gone very far. In the field of defense, in particular, he did not hesitate to surprise and break taboos. For example, he launched the notions of“Strategic autonomy” and of “European sovereignty”, proclaiming them to the four winds. He jostled his allies by denouncing the ” brain death “ of NATO. He even went so far as to fondle the idea of a “European army”, while no other French president had ever dared to utter these two words one after the other.
These expressions are not trivial coming from the mouth of the Head of State of a country like France, deeply attached to its national sovereignty. In this, Emmanuel Macron certainly marked a break in language compared to his predecessors. Can we say, however, that France’s European policy has changed in substance? When it comes to defense, the answer must be nuanced, unlike Macron’s rhetoric.
Need to strengthen the community method
Of course, language in politics has undeniable weight. Breaking taboos can have surprising long-term effects. However, to date, the posture of Paris has not really changed from the past. Yesterday as today, it is based on the famous intergovernmental vision of the European Union (EU) that Charles de Gaulle once called “Europe of nations”.
According to this approach, if France is to help consolidate the Union’s role in the world, it must do so by stepping up sovereign cooperation between member states, rather than through a qualitative deepening of the integration process as a that such. In other words, and unlike other countries with a more discreet European rhetoric, such as Germany, France remains reluctant to any action aimed at strengthening the community method and the role of the EU’s supranational institutions, such as than the Commission or the European Parliament.
On this point, Emmanuel Macron is not so different than his predecessors: he wants more Europe, but not necessarily more integration. This inclination to favor cooperation over integration, however, risks undermining Macron’s ambitions. And this for a very simple reason: the intergovernmental system will get Europe nowhere, unlike the Community system, which has proven itself over decades.
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European defense: “The community system is not a threat to sovereignty, but a means of preserving it”