The upcoming G7 summit is Macron’s opportunity to establish himself as the leader of what Politico refers to as a ‘multilateral liberal world order’. He is determined not to let President Trump dominate this year’s summit, like he did last year when he tweeted his anger over comments made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But the US President in particular will make it difficult for him to establish a settlement that creates a consensus between the seven most powerful leaders in the world.
Trump will be keen to ensure his priorities are central to the upcoming summit. He is engaged in a potential peace deal with North Korea whilst uniting the West behind his Venezuelan foreign policy. Merkel, Macron and Boris Johnson have all been distracted by the British Prime Minister’s proposed amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement. Meanwhile, the German Chancellor is anticipating a domestic recession while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could find that when he returns home, Italy will be plunged into a general election. Never before have the G7 leaders had so many contrasting scenarios before a summit. The chances of reaching a communiqué are slim.
Macron is going to aim to compromise with Trump, but that is going to be difficult when he and the US President disagree on so many fundamental issues. These include Iran, Brexit, climate change and America’s trade war with China. Considering Trump campaigned on promising to resolve these issues, there will be inadequate room for common ground between the French and US leaders.
There is no chance that the Iran Deal will be reinstated. This is something the French President has been aiming for, but now that Iran is seizing oil tankers and breaching the 2015 agreement, there is no turning back. The US President will want assurances that NATO member states will support his position, but Macron is looking unlikely to budge.
Regarding China, Trump’s policy is clear- tariffs will continue until Chinese President Xi Jinping agrees to a new trade deal. However, the US President has also issued the same tariffs on EU exports. Macron may try to persuade Trump to lower them, but unless the latter can feel assured Brussels will return the favour, it won’t happen.
Furthermore, the French President is maintaining his convictions regarding Brexit. He will arrive at the G7 summit having just told Boris that there is insufficient time to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit now fast becoming a reality, Macron seems uninterested in urging his EU allies to draw up a new agreement that can maintain the existing arrangements that London and Brussels currently enjoy. France’s leader has made it clear he would rather see the British government revoke Article 50.
Macron will make it clear that Russia cannot rejoin the G7 following their expulsion in 2014, which was triggered by Moscow’s invasion of the Ukraine. Trump insists that Russia should rejoin this organisation without any conditions attached. But Macron will want to see evidence that the Ukrainian conflict reaches a swift end before Moscow can rejoin this club. This is one area where the French President could score a victory against the US President as no other G7 member is likely to support Trump’s position here. Regarding all the other topics up for discussion, France’s leader will end up being disappointed.
Macron seeks a chance at next week’s G7 summit to establish himself as the moderate, sensible leader interested in preserving the old liberal order. With Trump leading the US, he maybe setting his expectations too high as the US President remains the greatest obstacle to France’s ambitions.