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Macron pleads for a “powerful Europe” and tries to relaunch his campaign

Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson Pool via Associated Press Emmanuel Macron tried to relaunch his campaign on Thursday with a long speech on Europe delivered at the Sorbonne.

Lagging behind in the polls behind the National Rally, French President Emmanuel Macron tried on Thursday to relaunch his campaign with a long speech on Europe delivered in the large amphitheater of the Sorbonne. A month and a half before the European elections, he met his supporters in this high place of knowledge where, in September 2017, he presented his project for the “refoundation of a sovereign, united and democratic Europe”.

Seven years later, while Eurosceptic parties are in the lead in many European countries, the atmosphere was clearly no longer the same. “We have not succeeded in everything,” he admitted from the outset. Among the successes, the president nevertheless points to the production of vaccines to emerge from the pandemic, energy policy, support to Ukraine and a pact on immigration.

“Europe is mortal”

In a long speech lasting almost two hours, often technical and sometimes resembling that of a CEO. multinational, the president essentially pleaded for “a Europe of power”. Parodying the poet Paul Valéry, he said that “our Europe today is mortal. She can die and it only depends on our choices. »

In this all-out plea in favor of the European Union (EU), which he urges to intervene in almost all areas, the president particularly insisted on defense. Describing a territory “in a situation of encirclement”, he supports “a Europe which is respected and which ensures its security […], which assumes having borders and which protects them”.

Without proposing a European army, he puts forward the nebulous concept of “strategic intimacy” and proposes creating a military academy and providing the EU with “a […] cybersecurity capacity”. Covertly targeting the many countries of the Union, but especially Germany, whose army obtains its supplies mainly from the United States, he pleaded for “a European preference in the purchase of military equipment”.

The president also wants to double the European budget so that the EU becomes a “world leader by 2030” in five strategic sectors, including artificial intelligence, new energies and space. While defending the free trade agreement between Canada and the EU (CETA), he proposes a certain protectionism in the areas of defence, energy and space.

In matters of immigration, a priority subject with purchasing power for a majority of French people, he says he wants to “regain control of our [European] borders”, but criticizes the decision British people to move their asylum seekers to Rwanda, where their cases will be examined. A choice however favored by 67% of French people.

In closing, Emmanuel Macron welcomed the fact that nationalism in Europe is no longer proposing an exit from the EU. But, he says, “they are just proposing to no longer have co-ownership rules, to no longer invest, to no longer pay rent.” Laying his cards on the table, the president does not hesitate to affirm that Europe is for him “a project that has no limits”.

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Bardella well ahead

Despite the Élysée's assertions evoking a major institutional speech, the latter was perceived by a large number of observers as a last attempt to save the campaign of its head of list in the European election, Valérie Hayer. The most recent polls only give 17% of the votes to the presidential list, in constant decline for a month, far behind that of the National Rally (RN), led by Jordan Bardella, which hovers around 31%.< /p>

But the bad surprise for the Renaissance group comes above all from the good result of the Socialist Party, which only had 1.74% in the last presidential election. Led by Raphaël Glucksmann, the list reaches 12%. Votes largely taken away from the presidential party, but which also explain the poor performance of the radical left: from environmentalists (7%) to La France insoumise (5.5%) via the Communist Party (2.5%).

The day before Emmanuel Macron's intervention, around fifty personalities from the intellectual world had signed a very notable column in Le Figaro denouncing “the federalist turn of the screw” of the European Union. For the signatories, such as the former socialist minister Arnaud Montebourg, the former president of the Constitutional Council Pierre Mazeaud and the philosophers Marcel Gauchet, Pierre-André Taguieff and Michel Onfray, “the Union continues to drift towards supranationality overwhelming. From year to year, the motto “United in diversity” has given way under a standardizing centralization erasing national identities and sovereignties.”

The forum is particularly targeting a resolution adopted in November 2023, currently non-binding, which proposed generalizing the qualified majority on all decisions. An idea that is making headway in Brussels without ever having been submitted to the people of the member countries, say the signatories, who do not hesitate to speak of the EU as a ““prison of the people” based on dogmas blind people who are forbidden to question.”

The first reactions mainly came from the right. For Jordan Bardella, by getting so involved in the European campaign, Emmanuel Macron has just put his legitimacy at stake. “If Emmanuel Macron's list were to lose this election, if it was left behind by the opposition list , the President of the Republic, leader of the majority which is not only minority but defeated, will have to draw all the consequences. » He proposes nothing less than “sanctioning the French government and Macron’s Europe” and “opening the way to alternation”. Clearly, this would involve the dissolution of the National Assembly and an election in which all polls indicate that the RN would emerge as the winner.

The head of the Reconquest list, Marion Maréchal , judged that “European sovereignty for Emmanuel Macron is progress towards a European federal state” and “the end of France’s right of veto in all decisions”. For the head of the Les Républicains list, François-Xavier Bellamy, Macron is “a president who talks a lot, but who, in fact, when it comes to acting, produces very few results”. “Seven years of destroying our industries and public services and organizing impotence”, and “two hours to complain about the effects”, mocked the head of the list of La France insoumise, Manon Aubry.

Limit case

When he was appointed, the youngest prime minister of the Fifth Republic, Gabriel Attal, was presented as an anti-Bardella weapon. Four months later, we see that the Prime Minister was very little involved in the campaign. A recent poll by Figaro even suggests that the young president of the RN would win against him in a presidential match. Was this speech indicated in what is increasingly taking the form of a referendum on the presidency of Emmanuel Macron ? 66% of French people believe that the president should not get more involved in this campaign.

Unlike other elections, the European election generally mobilizes barely one in two voters, so the challenge for all candidates is to reduce the number of abstentions among their supporters. Barely six out of ten voters who voted for Emmanuel Macron in the last presidential election say they are on Valérie Hayer's list. Which leads most analysts to say that the aim of this intervention was above all to limit the damage. An observation on which both Le Figaro, for whom this speech aimed to “revive Macronism”, and Le Monde~ agree 60~/i>, for whom the president is “looking for a second wind”.

One thing is certain, the campaign has just begun.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116