macron Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images

The Macron Method

Rather than standing exclusively with the old elites or the new populists, French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rally broad political support under the banner of European unity. But can he really breathe new life into an ailing project?

LONDON – Emmanuel Macron’s election to the French presidency provides the European Union with an opportunity to move past the internal conflicts that have hastened its disintegration. Rather than standing exclusively with the old elites or the new populists, Macron has promised to rally broad political support under the banner of European reform. But can he really breathe new life into an ailing project?

When Macron met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he offered a plan for ending the cold war between northern and southern Europe – which is to say the tension between advocates of austerity and those in favor of growth policies. And when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, he could find a way to bridge the divide between the EU’s eastern and western flanks, which want, respectively, to contain and engage Russia.

Likewise, Macron has tried to reconcile the idea of a welcoming Europe with advocacy of a fortress Europe. He wants to take in more refugees, while urging the EU to create a border force of 5,000 soldiers, and to accelerate repatriation of illegal migrants.

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