Following the results of the German election, which brought both the fourth term to Angela Merkel as German Chancellor as well as an unprecedented success of a far-right party in the country’s modern history, French President Emmanuel Macron offered an ambitious vision for a renewal of the European project. He called for the EU to cooperate more closely on immigration and defense and urged the Eurozone to have its own budget.
Speaking at the Sorbonne, France’s leading university, he depicted Europe as needing to re-launch itself by working more closely together especially given the broad set of issues to be dealt with, such as asylum, border protection, corporate tax, intelligence sharing, defense and financial stability. “The only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic,” French President said. “At the beginning of the next decade, Europe must have a joint intervention force, a common defense budget and a joint doctrine for action.”
In his pre-election campaign, Mr. Macron made the European reform the backbone of his political agenda and he and Chancellor Merkel have spoken frequently about the desire of their countries to take the lead on the EU’s future integration. However, some fear that Mrs. Merkel might now have less capacity to support his bold vision since her conservative CDU/CSU bloc scored its worst result since 1949. On top of this result, she will have to deal with having a far-right party in Bundestag.
However, Mrs. Merkel’s alliance is still the largest bloc in the German parliament, though to come up with a working majority, she will have to form a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens, who are in opposition to some of Emmanuel Macron’s ideas. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a senior member of the Social Democrats (SPD), hailed Macron’s speech as “a passionate plea against nationalism and for Europe,” stressing that “he can count on us!”