Paris: On Saturday, France took over the rotating EU presidency, giving President Emmanuel Macron the opportunity to serve as the de facto leader of the EU before the national elections in April.
The 44-year-old has never concealed his ambition to become a driving force for further European integration. For the past four years, he has been a dynamic assistant to Angela Merkel, the more stable German Chancellor of the European power couple.
With Merkel now retiring and a timely gift from the rotating presidency of the European Council from January 1, Macron announced an ambitious agenda with 27 member states, which could also help him Service for domestic re-election campaigns.
“The year 2022 must be a turning point for Europe,” he said in a New Year’s Eve national address that hailed the EU’s role during the Covid-19 crisis.
Referring to the French presidency, he vowed that “you can count on my complete commitment to ensure that this period, which comes around every 13 years, is a time of progress for you”.
The centrist, who made his Europhile views a key part of his political campaign when winning the presidency in 2017, is hoping it will again serve him in elections scheduled for April 10 and 24.
“The EU presidency gives him a welcome platform to put his European record to the forefront and differentiate himself from his rivals and bring new proposals, new ideas to the table,” said Claire Demesmay, an expert at the Marc-Bloch think-tank in Berlin.
Strutting on the international stage has also long been a popular move for any French president.
“The French like nothing more than the image or impression of France being ‘at the controls’,” said Pierre Sellal, a former French diplomat at the French mission to the European Union.
To commemorate the beginning of the six-month presidency, France used the blue of the European Union flag to illuminate the country’s historic buildings, including the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe on New Year’s Eve.
Other observers pointed out that the French presidential logo includes the letters U and E representing the “European Union”, with a gray arrow in the middle, which seems to have created another letter-Macron’s side M.