The European Union could see 2020 became the year of a great fightback against Emmanuel Macron and his attempts to snatch Germany’s leadership over the bloc. Paris and Berlin have long been considered to be leading players in the management of the EU but Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to reduce her involvement before stepping down next year. But Mr Macron could see his plans to take over Mrs Merkel’s position face a furious clampdown from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Le Temps reporter Richard Werly suggested.
Speaking to France 24, Mr Werly said: “Macron will certainly step forward again in Europe.
“He is, at the moment, probably the most powerful leader in Europe, the one who is carrying new thoughts and ideas for reform but he will bump into two obstacles.
“The first is, you never know how von der Leyen will react because it’s not in her advantage to be seen as Macron’s puppet. She may be tempted to show her independence towards France.”
The Swiss reporter also suggested other member states could prove to be unwilling to fall into step with the French President and help him deliver on his reform plans for the EU institutions.
He continued: “The second obstacle is the unity within the 27 because, once again, Macron has the microphone open – he can talk, he can talk loudly, he can bring in willingness for reform.
“But who is going to follow? Who will catch Macron’s ideas? At the moment, I don’t see anyone ready in Europe to stand in for Emmanuel Macron.”
Despite the warning of potential obstacles to his programmes, POLITICO’s Rym Momtaz suggested the French leader will insist on increasing his influence in Brussels.
Asked whether Mr Macron was a candidate to be “king of Europe,” Ms Momtaz simply replied: “Yes.
“When I went with him to China recently, it was very interesting because he, unlike Merkel, made the choice of taking with him a German minister.
“There was this unreal scene where we could see the incoming European Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, who was signing a deal with his Chinese counterpart, and there was Xi Jinping standing behind looking at his minister with the Chinese flag behind him. And then there was Emmanuel Macron with the European flag behind him, no French flag, looking at his commissioner.”
Ms Momtaz continued: “The balance of power is going to shift towards France and Emmanuel Macron because he wants that leadership position.
“He has been acting for it when Germany is currently experiencing a real void in leadership because Merkel is on her way out.”
She added: “Emmanuel Macron wants that position and he is going for it. Whether he is able to pull it off, whether he finally learns to build the coalitions that are needed on the European level is going to be a big question mark.”
Mr Macron’s chief adviser Clement Beaune on Thursday revealed precisely what the French President’s plans are for the coming year and the EU’s long term future, which could send shockwaves across the globe.
Mr Beaune revealed his leader succeeded in pushing many of his key priorities into the European agenda.
For example fighting climate change, introducing a eurozone-wide unemployment benefits scheme and boosting the EU’s capabilities on defence – some of Macron’s own priorities – have all appeared on the new Commission’s strategic outlook.
The chief adviser said: “Power has been seen in Europe as a kind of woe because it was a division of the Europeans, a war of Europeans against each other and a form of auto-destruction.
But he added: “Europe has to get used to wielding power itself.
“Europe is the only global bloc that doesn’t think of itself as a power or as a long-term project.”
The European Union could see 2020 became the year of a great fightback against Emmanuel Macron and his attempts to snatch Germany's leadership over the bloc. Paris and Berlin have long been considered to be leading players in the management of the EU but Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to reduce her involvement before stepping down next year.