The news comes as France adopts the rotating presidency of the European Council, and EU bloc former pillar of force, Ms Merkel steps down from her role in the political field. Mr Macron has made no secret of his desire for reform in the EU, with the ideal opportunity to stamp his mark on Brussels, this is the opportunity the French President has been waiting for.
Speaking exclusively to express.co.uk, James Shields, a professor of French studies at the University of Warwick, commented on Mr Macron’s ambitions: driving force for strengthening the EU. “
Adding to what Mr Macron wants to achieve, the professor said: “His ambitions for this role are not modest: reform of EU budget rules, a new premium on EU defense and security, better migration management within a reformed Schengen area. area, a new alignment of economics and trade with climate goals, and a new EU model for growth based on technological autonomy.
For Mr Macron, however, the challenge of changing a supranational entity comes as powerful as the EU with many obstacles.
Professor Shield’s adds: “Does anyone remember one single change brought to the EU by the previous 6-month presidency of Slovenia?”
He went on to say: “This question does not diminish the messianic zeal of a French president in his New Year’s address, which announced the next 6 months as ‘a turning point for Europe’.
Regarding how the president is about making these changes, Dr Paul Smith, an Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Nottingham, says: “As far as the EU is concerned, Macron has been a staunch supporter of the Citizens’ Conference about the future of the EU – that’s his MO, he loves such discussions and focus groups. “
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Mr Macron’s support for the EU was recently highlighted in waving EU flags over French government buildings and national landmarks to celebrate the French Presidency of the EU Council.
The movement provoked a strong reaction from the public as well as from within the political arena.
Marine le Pen was one of the movement’s most vocal critics, promising to lodge a complaint with the Council of State, France’s highest court for administrative affairs, calling the removal of the EU flag “a great patriotic victory. “. She tweeted that a “massive mobilization” had forced Macron to back pedal.
Valérie Pécresse also spoke against the incumbent president, saying: “Presiding over Europe yes, erasing the French identity, no.”
With certain elements of the French political spectrum supporting the anger, echoes of a “Frexit” were heard in small minorities, but perhaps not enough to drive the very pro-EU nation out of the bloc.
According to Helen Drake, a professor of French and European studies and director of the Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance at the University of Loughborough, “French public opinion does not support ‘Frexit’, but there is Euroscepticism in France, over the right and left of politics. “
With the French presidential election just months away, Mr Macron, who has yet to announce his candidacy for the role, has a delicate juggling experience to play.
On the one hand, he now wants to embrace France’s official role in the European Union by holding the rotating presidency of the EU Council, a role that will undoubtedly require time and effort to achieve its ambitious goals.
Yet, on the other hand, the French head of state has many pieces to repair at home.
His handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legacy of the yellow vest movement, and the accompanying police brutality, such as pension reform, Islamophobia, and the undisputed notion of an emerging extreme-right and populist movement in France are all seen as a priority for the people of the country and are far more important to them, than the corridors of power found in Brussels.