PARIS, France (AFP) – On Saturday, France will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union, giving President Emmanuel Macron the opportunity to pose as the EU’s de facto leader in the run-up to national elections in April.
The 44-year-old has made no secret of his desire to be the driving force behind more European integration, working as a vibrant sidekick to Germany’s more stable chancellor Angela Merkel in Europe’s power couple over the previous four years.
Macron has proposed an ambitious agenda for the 27-member union that might also assist his domestic re-election campaign, with Merkel having retired and the timely gift of the rotating chair of the EU Council beginning January 1.
“The year 2022 must be a watershed moment for Europe,” he said in a New Year’s Eve national speech lauding the EU’s participation in the Covid-19 problem.
In reference to the French president, he stated, “you can depend on my total dedication to ensuring that this era, which comes around every 13 years, is a moment of growth for you.”
The moderate, who made his Europhile beliefs a central component of his presidential campaign in 2017, is hoping they will serve him again in the April 10 and 24 elections.
Struggling on the world scene has always been a favourite strategy for any French president.
“Nothing pleases the French more than the image or notion of France being’at the controls,'” said Pierre Sellal, a former French diplomat at the French mission to the European Union.
On New Year’s Eve, France lighted iconic sites around the nation, including the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, with the blue of the EU flag to commemorate the start of the six-month presidency.
Other observers have remarked that the French presidential emblem features the letters U and E for “Union Europeene,” as well as a grey arrow in the centre that looks to generate another letter — a sideways M for Macron.