As the world’s eyes are set on Biarritz, something a lot more profound is happening in France: Emmanuel Macron aims to take command of Europe. A long-term strategy was implemented by France over the last months, aided to some degree by the serious recession that all European Union member states are going through. Never before has Paris found itself in such a position to take the reins of the European Union. Or rather: never before has France proved to be so determined to do everything possible to make it happen.
The Biarritz G7 is just one of the many steps in Macron’s political escalation in this sense. The arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif was a theatrical coup and, above all, a prime example of the French president’s ability to stand as Europe’s diplomatic leader. As the European Union teeters in the face of an increasingly disenchanted population and heads of state who appear less and less capable of operating as true EU commanders, it is the Elysée that aspires to (and can) stand as head of Europe’s diplomacy.
And it is no coincidence that Donald Trump chose to deal directly with Macron instead of acting through the European Union. A divided Franco-German led Europe is in Trump’s greatest interest. And with Angela Merkel’s Germany under siege, Macron is the only European Union leader who can be envisaged as being able to bridge the two sides of the Atlantic. Especially at such a time when the White House can bank on Brexit, as well as Italy, being a lot less subservient to the dictates of the Aachen Treaty.
Macron wants to gain as much as possible from the current situation in Europe. What’s more, everything seems to be on France’s side. Germany appears to be going through a crisis, with stagnant industries, decreasing GDP and above all, an increasingly weak leadership. Angela Merkel’s political force has clearly taken a blow, resulting in a fragility which is not only physically apparent, (the bouts of shaking which have undoubtedly affected the chancellor’s image) but also on a political level. The attack carried out by the United States against the German industry, with constant threats of tariffs, and Brexit hitting hard on the German automobile sector, are considerably damaging Berlin’s stability built on the success of its industries in commercializing the products made in its factories.
South of Germany, Italy’s political crisis plays straight into the hands of the French government. Macron is fanning the flames of the government crisis in the hope that Italy will choose a cabinet more in line with a Paris-Berlin led European Union policy, and, above all, closer to the requests of the Union’s presidency. For this very reason, Macron hopes that Italy’s Palazzo Chigi will house a potentially red-yellow (Democratic Party – Five Star Movement) inclusive government. The Democratic Party has always been one of the main pillars of a “moderate” dialogue between Italy and France. And it is no coincidence that the head of the Elysée “hopes” that Matteo Salvini will be sidelined by a newly formed government. No more sovreignists for Italy: this is what the current French government hopes for. And thanks to the “Fall of Rome”, France can lay claims to the whole of Europe.
In the meantime, the presence of an extremely unstable government in Spain, where Pedro Sanchez is having great difficulty in keeping a balance, is but another pillar in France’s plan. The Mediterranean front is in complete shambles, with forces either favouring the Franco-German axis, (in the case of a PD-5 Star Italy and socialist led Spain), or with Countries weakened by the crisis and left out of the great European games.
And so, Macron’s influence can only expand in an increasingly frail Europe, where France can use the European Union as a force multiplier for its plans. It would seem that Brussels is increasingly becoming a fiefdom of the French government.
Macron’s moves prior to and in the aftermath of Biarritz confirm this: not only with the arrival of Zarif, but also his welcoming of Vladimir Putin which completely defies the logics of European policy. At a time when Brussels forces all countries to respect sanctions and is still challenging the Kremlin, France was host to a particularly significant summit between the French and Russian presidents. As Paris opens up to Moscow the bridge between the Elysée and the Kremlin could result essential. So, as Italy breaks off ties with Russia, considering them heinous, in Paris, Macron carries on regardless, intent on building an axis which not only involves Europe, but also the Mediterranean and the Middle East. A very clear lesson: our weakness is playing into the hands of France.