Macron is taking advantage of Merkel’s political and physical problems in his bid to have France replace Germany as the EU’s most important country, with Paris’ principled opposition to a renegotiated Brexit deal and its efforts to mediate a “New Detente” between the West and Russia standing out as prominent examples of this.
It was nearly a year and a half ago that the author wrote that “France Is The US’ New ‘Special Partner’ In Europe And Maybe Even The World“, and the subsequent 18 months have proven that this bold claim is increasingly correct. Macron is taking advantage of Merkel’s political — and now even physical — problems in his bid to have France replace Germany as the EU’s most important country, with two prominent examples proving that this is the case. The first is Paris’ principled opposition to a renegotiated Brexit deal, which contradicts the the signals that Berlin recently sent about possible moderating its previously recalcitrant position. Digging in his heels, Macron even went as far as mocking the UK for becoming an American vassal if it leaves the EU without a deal and signs a trade one with the US instead.
This strong stance in defense of EU interests positions France as Germany’s rival for leadership in the bloc, as does Macron’s role in trying to mediate a “New Detente” between the West and Russia. He recently hosted President Putin for a very successful summit just days before this weekend’s G7 meeting in the Western European country, with the Kremlin expressing how upbeat it felt about the future of International Relations afterwards. Trump even chimed in by saying that he’d be in favor of returning Russia to the G8, too, showing that some serious progress must have been made behind the scenes during that visit in order for the American leader speak so positively about the prospect of this tangible manifestation of East-West rapprochement.
These two examples add to the author’s original argument that France’s geostrategic presence in Africa, the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean, and the Pacific makes the country one of the US’ most important partners in the world. Not only has Paris proven itself to be a significant player in the “Global South”, but it’s now also proven its worth in the West as well. While the U S and France obviously don’t see eye-to-eye on the UK’s future relationship with Europe, Macron’s strong stance against renegotiating the bloc’s Brexit deal plays to American interests by making a no-deal Brexit much more likely, whether this is his intention or not. In any case, Macron is showing the world that he wants France to be the country that speaks on behalf of Europe, not Germany.
This development is extremely interesting because it suggests that the old Franco-German rivalry might be in the process of mildly reviving after Macron decided to take advantage of Merkel’s political and physical problems. The two neighboring Great Powers also have some different views about the future of the EU’s internal arrangement too, which might become more pronounced in the coming future if France continues to position itself as the bloc’s alternative to Germany. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be an overt Franco-German split anytime soon, but just that the EU is definitely becoming more divided nowadays, and France’s rising role in EU affairs reaffirms its importance as the US’ new ‘special partner’ in the hemisphere.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.