Emmanuel Macron Overtakes Angela Merkel to become the Top Diplomat in the EU
Germany has for long wanted a stronger partner in France, and now new president Emmanuel Macron has stepped up to fill the shoes. Macron is self-confident and continues to make headway in both Europe and the US offering signs of how the new Europe de-facto leadership will shape up in the coming years.
In July, Macron gave a warm welcome to US President Donald Trump when he visited Paris with a traditional military parade on July 14th and a dinner at the Eiffel Tower. This was in sharp contrast to Trump’s murky relationship with Angela Merkel. He refused to shake the chancellor’s hand during her visit to the US after his inauguration. The tension between the two leaders was also evident during the Hamburg G20 summit that Merkel chaired.
Macron also hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in late May 2017. According to Jean-Dominique Giuliani from Robert Schuman Foundation think-tank, Macron is showing the world that France is back. He added that the power rebalancing in Europe was necessary.
Angela Merkel was for a long time the lone European diplomat who was hailed by some media outlets as the ‘leader of the free world’ following the Brexit and Donald Trump’s shocking election victory in 2016. However, Merkel has never claimed any European leadership status mainly due to Germany’s dark past.
Moreover, the mantle of leadership only fell upon Merkel because France failed to counterweight Germany as Europe’s political dynamo due to its struggling economy. Britain, the other major actor in the EU, left the field after its Brexit referendum. Italy and Spain remain economically anemic while Poland faces claims of drifting towards authoritarianism.
Enter the Self-Confident Emmanuel Macron
Macron’s showcasing of France, personal style, and self-confidence has caused many to ask if he prefers to be solo. According to a diplomat source, Germany was surprised when Donald Trump’s Paris visit was announced. German Magazine Der Spiegel commented that Macron wants to flatter Trump and showcase himself as the leader of Europe.
On the other hand, Merkel has opted for a tougher stance with Trump by criticizing his protectionist rhetoric and decision to leave the Paris climate accord. Furthermore, Merkel’s open bashing of President Trump serves her domestic political agenda ahead of Germany’s parliamentary elections in September 2017.
Despite the conflicting styles shown by the two leaders, they both appear determined to consolidate the EU, which faces challenges posed by the ‘America First’ Trump administration, the Brexit, and nationalism.
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