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French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in the Sorbonne University Ludovic Marin/Getty Images

Macron’s Challenge for Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan for reforming the European Union and the eurozone is highly ambitious, but credible – if Germany plays ball. But while Germany would be committing a monumental strategic blunder if it did not engage seriously with Macron’s proposals, its newly complicated domestic politics could get in the way.

PARIS – In an ambitious, visionary speech at the Sorbonne this week, French President Emmanuel Macron presented his plan for countering the tide of xenophobic nationalism in Europe. He wants to build a “sovereign, united, and democratic Europe,” where citizens again feel a sense of allegiance to the idea of Europe itself.

Macron’s speech was a welcome call to arms for a European Union that is confronting many crises and threats. But on the crucial and controversial question of fixing the eurozone, his proposals were disappointing. And he will have a hard time winning over his more cautious European counterparts, not least German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose room for maneuver was crimped by her party’s poor showing in last weekend’s federal election.

Still, Macron made a powerful, positive case for a renewed EU. That EU embraces globalization and innovation, while also protecting Europeans, doing more to help them adapt to a changing world. It advances European interests and values in a world otherwise dominated by America and China. And it bolsters security at a time of increasing Russian revanchism, Islamist terrorism, and American disengagement under President Donald Trump.

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