Two days after reinvesting as French President, Emmanuel Macron presented his roadmap for the EU last Monday in Strasbourg in front of the European Parliament. Despite his strong leadership, it will not be easy for Macron to push forward two of his proposals: treaty revisions and the idea of creating a “European political community” to make candidate countries wait a long time to join a more tolerable European club.
Macron revived the old and short-lived “European confederation” initiative launched by François Mitterrand in December 1989, a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This approach was developed and defended behind the scenes by former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta – the current leader of the Democratic Party – with the careful support of the current head of government in Rome, Mario Draghi.
Those who are waiting to join the European club will already have a guarantee of security and market access.
Macron’s problem is that, in a burst of non-diplomatic sincerity, he admitted in Strasbourg that Ukraine’s accession to the EU could take “many years, in fact several decades.” “You must tell the truth,” he said.
Kyiv’s decision was immediate. His foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, warned that “Ukraine’s accession to the EU is a matter of war or peace in Europe” and recalled that one of the reasons for the Russian invasion was that “Putin was convinced that I didn’t need Europe.” Ukraine.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky himself, during a video conference with students from the Sciences Po Institute in Paris, expressed his disgust at Macron’s words. “Our accession can only strengthen the EU,” he stressed. We can’t be kept apart.” Always a skilled communicator, Zelenskiy used a metaphor to bolster his argument: “We can’t stay in limbo all the time. As if at the table where the whole family gathered, you are a guest, but they didn’t give you a chair. This is unfair”.
Explaining his proposal and the genesis of 1989, Macron recalled that the “confederation” conceived by Mitterrand was supposed to include Russia, but it soon became clear that this was not feasible because it was “too early” and because “it was unacceptable for states , just freed from the Soviet yoke. It is now clear that Russian intervention is even more unthinkable.
There are many unknowns that hover over the new initiative. In fact, this European political community was supposed to serve as a vestibule, a comfortable waiting room for candidates for EU membership. In addition to Ukraine, there are eight more: Georgia, Moldova, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. Macron believes that if his idea were accepted, these candidate countries would find “a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure and the movement of people.”
According to Letta, this continental architecture will mean that at every European summit the leaders of the “twenty-seven” will meet with their counterparts from the nine candidate countries in an institutionalized 27+9 format. It will be a working model similar to the G-20. For the Italian leader, who appears to be the shady brain of the plan, this connection would help alleviate the frustration of waiting, as has already happened in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and other eastern countries. This could mean gradual accession to the single market and include a mutual assistance clause, similar to the one already in place between EU partners, in the event of external aggression. This guarantee would make joining NATO unnecessary and would make it easier to get out of the Ukrainian war.
After meeting Macron in Berlin, Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz was polite to his guest’s idea and called it “very interesting,” but that doesn’t mean it will eventually flourish and a consensus will soon be reached.
The weekly L’Express wrote that Macron “hopes to be the driver of the European transformation made necessary by Vladimir Putin’s aggressiveness.” However, there is skepticism about the viability of the Élysée road map. “Wishing for unity, Macron risks splitting,” warns Le Monde in an editorial. And Le Figaro discovered that there was danger with the commitment to build an à la carte union of concentric circles, because in this way “this Europe will never be a political force.”
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