In the battle for the French Presidency, Emmanuel Macron is flying the flag for the European Union.
Despite far-right candidate Marine Le Pen stoking strong anti-EU sentiment amongst her supporters, the former French Finance Minister has outlined his belief that a strong EU is a necessity if France wants to be able to wield enough influence to compete with the likes of the US & China as a global superpower.
An alarming diagnosis
In his campaign tie-in book, Revolution – which has already sold over 200,000 copies – Macron states that, 60 years after its creation, the European Union seems to be floundering.
The essence of the EU has been lost, he argues, to procedures and treaties. He believes that almost nobody cares about this decline though, as the three core European values (‘Peace’, ‘Prosperity’ and ‘Freedom’) have progressively weakened.
According to Macron, the ongoing unsolved crises in the Ukraine and Syria and the problems mass migration poses have jeopardised ‘Peace’, the promise of ‘Prosperity’ has been undermined by a 20% unemployment rate amongst 18-25s, and for reasons of national security, ‘Freedom’ has started to appear unattainable.
Macron states that, 60 years after its creation, the European Union seems to be floundering.
An ambitious vision.
While Macron’s gloomy diagnosis is hardly ground-breaking – the European Union increasingly bears the brunt of national economical frustrations – his position is notable for its ambition.
He is optimistic for the future of Europe, and believes that the EU is of fundamental importance. In his book he outlines three main ideas.
1 – Sovereignty vs. Nationalism
According to Macron, someone who is truly in favour of national sovereignty is also pro-European.
He justifies this seemingly paradoxical viewpoint by explaining that sovereignty is about the freedom given to a country to choose how best to respond when confronted with issues such as mass immigration and dumping.
Macron questions how strong or diverse a state’s options could be without cooperation with neighbouring countries, and recommends renegotiating with the UK on EU immigration policy. He also argues for stronger anti-dumping policies, saying that Europe should be as strong as China or the US in these areas. That, for Macron, is the only way to regain the trust of the EU populace.
2 – Economic Ambition
Macron argues that the EU should combat sluggish growth with a more decisive plan of action, namely a stronger European investment plan designed to address the lack of fibre optic infrastructure and to increase spending on renewable energies, education and research.
No specific figure is given, but Macron would elect a Eurozone Finance Minister in charge of an investment budget whose activities would be monitored by the European parliament on at least a monthly basis.
Macron would create a committee for energy as well as fiscal and social matters with a group of primary nations – say France, Germany and the Benelux Union – as well as an extended group of secondary nations.
Macron argues that the next French president will greatly influence the direction of the EU over the coming years, and in turn have a marked impact on Europe’s long-term future.
3 – More Democracy
Finally, Macron believes that the European Union needs more citizen involvement, arguing that in Autumn of 2017, after the French & German elections, EU member states should encourage participation in democratic debate, which would form the basis of concrete action plans that each country would be required to implement within the next 5 to 10 years.
Furthermore, he declares that if a member state did not agree with a collective European agreement it would have the power to veto it in its own territory, but that this would not affect legislation in other countries.
Only by taking these measure, Macron believes, can the EU can become more dynamic.