Macron’s Brussels power grab: President ready to use Merkel exit to be EU’s leader

Emmanuel Macron branded 'disaster' in pandemic by Wright

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With Ms Merkel set to step down as Chancellor this year, the French President is hoping to use her departure to pave the way for his pursuit to become the EU’s de-facto leader. Commenting on Ms Merkel’s impending departure, political commentator Stephen Booth claimed the Chancellor’s exit has led to questions marks over the EU’s future. However, the commentator argued the French President will use her departure to reinvigorate his vision for the EU.

Despite the EU struggling to reduce case levels across the bloc combined with the economic fallout from the pandemic, Mr Macron has long pushed for a collective EU military force.

Writing for Conservative Home, Mr Booth said: “It is unclear exactly what the German election will mean for the future of the EU as it continues to wrestle with the pandemic and its aftermath.

“Nevertheless, Emmanuel Macron undoubtedly hopes that Merkel’s departure will pave the way for him to become the EU’s most influential leader and present an opportunity to reboot his ambitious vision for European integration.”

Since the UK departed the bloc, Mr Macron has become a leading voice in pushing EU integration across the continent.

He also called for more cohesion on sovereignty in the EU and has previously criticised NATO’s role and cooperation with European states.

Next year Mr Macron will face the Presidential election and will compete against Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen.

Indeed, amid the threat of a Le Pen Presidency, Mr Booth indicated the next German Chancellor may want to appeal as a helpful ally to Mr Macron.

He concluded: “The next German Chancellor is likely to want to be seen to be helpful to Macron, in fear of what a Le Pen presidency would mean for the EU.

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“Germany’s Greens are likely to find this easier as they are instinctively pro-EU integration and open to many of Macron’s ideas, but a coalition led by the CDU/CSU could retain much of Merkel’s reluctance to make the great leaps forward Macron has proposed.”

Ahead of France’s election next year, Mr Macron has faced several issues to his domestic reforms due to the gilet jaunes protest.

Mr Macron has also been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic which is spiking in France yet again.

The failing vaccine programme across the EU has also forced France to extend certain lockdown restrictions from Paris to across the country.

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This means schools and non-essential shops will be closed for three weeks after Easter, as Mr Macron warned France will lose control if restrictions are not brought in.

Domestic travel will also be banned for a month while there will be a nationwide curfew between 7pm to 6am.

Despite this, some EU officials have claimed he is preparing to launch a plot to secure greater influence in the EU.

Mr Macron said earlier this year: “If the Franco-German tandem do not come up with a perspective for the middle classes, that will be a historic failure.

“What’s key in the coming years is to move much faster on issues of sovereignty on the European level.”

Commenting on Mr Macron’s plans, one French government source said his ideas may not go down well in Berlin.

One senior French government official told Head of Eurasia Group, Mujtaba Rahman: “Macron may be right to put defence and increased military spending at the heart of his argument for a stronger and more political Europe, but it’s inevitably seen in other capitals —especially Berlin — as a crafty way of putting France at the centre of the top table.”

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