Can Europe Sustain the Macron Moment?
The European Union's political and economic outlook improved dramatically in 2017, following a year in which the bloc reeled from the United Kingdom's Brexit referendum and Donald Trump's election in the United States. But European leaders must not become complacent in 2018, or the EU could be thrown into crisis yet again the following year.
STOCKHOLM – At the start of 2017, many feared that the European project would experience a near-breakdown within the next year. The United Kingdom had decided to leave the European Union, the United States had elected a president who cheered the Brexiteers on, and populists running in the French and German elections posed a clear danger to European integration.
As we approach the start of 2018, the picture is very different. The European project has not only survived, but may be gaining new momentum. At least within the bubble of EU institutions in Brussels, one senses a newfound confidence.
More than anyone else, French President Emmanuel Macron is at the center of this turnaround. His post-election victory speech in May was accompanied by the EU anthem, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” – a strong symbolic gesture. Since then, Macron has launched or proposed one initiative after another to strengthen EU institutions, while taking a lead in European foreign policy. With German Chancellor Angela Merkel struggling to form a government after September’s general election, all eyes are now on Macron.
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