Judy Asks: Is France Europe’s Redeemer?
A selection of experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.
Rosa Balfour - Senior fellow in the Europe Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States
French President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s path ahead is mired by so many hurdles that it is too early to see France redeeming Europe. Leaving aside the challenges of the French legislative election on June 11 and 18, the next government, and the growing strength of the far-right National Front, Europe will be redeemed only if there is a new deal on the economy and its governance. Paris and Berlin are the starting point, which the rest of the EU needs to wholeheartedly endorse. At this stage, it is far from clear whether the political conditions in France, Germany, and elsewhere will allow that.
But Macron’s program—and the way the campaign unfolded, ending with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on victory night—may bring unexpected novelties to the debate about the EU. The days in which the EU was barely mentioned in national politics (and, when it was, was depicted as made up of gray and faceless technocrats) may be over. Macron’s different narrative from the populist Euroskeptic hatred of the cosmopolitan elite is more than a communication stunt; it has substance. He is raising the bar for the EU to find a new relevance and identify issues around which to reframe the political debate.
Politicians across Europe will start to copy his example. The EU may be about to become political; its institutions will have to change too to live up to this pitch.