Sunday, 1 October 2017

The future of Europe - Macron vs. Lindner

This week, Emmanuel Macron threw down the gauntlet for his vision of a stronger, more federal European Union. But his bold words were tempered by the election result in Germany two days earlier. And just a few days later, violence in Catalonia further undermined his vision of European unity.

  
French President Emmanuel Macron stuck to his timetable this week, not flinching in the face of a German election result that delivered a roadblock to his grand plans

He promised a bold speech on reforming Europe just after the German election. And come hell or high water, he was going to give it. 

Nevermind that two German parties opposed to his vision of European solidarity - the Liberals and the far-right Alternative for Germany - emerged as the success story of last Sunday's German elections. The Liberals, led by the charismatic Christian Lindner, oppose solidarity measures like debt collectivization. They have even called for Greece to be kicked out of the Eurozone. The AfD is an ethno-nationalist party that is no friend to the EU.

Because of the poor performance of her previous coalition partner, the SPD, Merkel has only one choice to form a government - allying with the Liberals and the Greens. It is expected that the Liberals will get economic portfolios in the cabinet, while the more pro-European Greens will get foreign affairs posts. 

Who will be in charge of dealing with Macron's EU reform proposals? Probably the hawkish, rule-obsessed Lindner. It doesn't bode well for Marcon's vision of greater European solidarity.

Meanwhile Merkel could be doomed to foreign affairs irrelevance in her final term, if she is consumed with holding together the unwieldy coalition with the Liberals, Greens, and her Bavarian sister party the CSU. Even if she wanted to help Macron in his quest, she may not be able to.

Dark clouds are gathering elsewhere on the horizon. Catalonia's independence struggle turned bloody as the region tried to hold a referendum five days after Macron's speech. 

Things look like they're going to get worse before they get better. Could this also throw Macron's vision off track?

We tackled these issues in this week's podcast - the 'future of Europe' edition. If you like the podcast, subscribe to us on iTunes. And don't forget to rate and review!

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