Emmanuel Macron has been one of the greatest champions of greater integration of European nations within the EU, however, during the tenure of his presidency he has had to face an ailing German leadership and internal divisions within the EU. Amidst the renewal of tensions between the US, Russia and China, Macron worried that the EU would become an irrelevant mess.
Now, the coronavirus pandemic has well and truly upstaged the EU’s pretensions toward cooperation and movements as a single bloc. Europe’s healthcare systems have been overwhelmed as the death tolls have skyrocketed and the lockdowns that the pandemic has brought on will have long lasting consequences for European economies for decades to come, some of which may never quite recover.
At every stage of the pandemic, Macron has desperately pleaded with his fellow leaders to work together to use a connected response to the pandemic, but the EU has been unable to resolve their ideological divisions. This is best shown through the failures to resolve divisions over a recovery fund to help members in Southern Europe. Italy and Spain have been backed by Macron in their request for a trillion euro fund that would directly transfer funds to keep their economies afloat, in the form of grants not loans. However, northern states such as Germany and the Netherlands have been reluctant to agree to this, for fear of piling the pressure on their own voters.
Then there are Hungary and Poland. Both of which have begun breaking with their EU allies and are rapidly descending into authoritarian states, threatening the EU’s liberal ideal. Macron has tried consistently to win both nations over to democratic norms, to little or no success, the only possible area in which he has triumphed is in giving them guarantees over Russian aggression.
Consequently, it is hard not to see Macron’s grand ambitions of a united EU as being in tatters, and his own image of himself as a great statesman as a sham. He is facing an uphill struggle to achieve his goals, and as time progresses, it does appear as though he will not succeed in this endeavour.