Macron’s speech in Strasburg: following in the footsteps of Louis XIV, Bonaparte, Charles de Gaulle ….?

Marek Albin, Prezes BTCS, tłumacz konferencyjny PL EN FR IT ES PT

17 kwietnia 2018

Poniższy tekst jest podsumowaniem Prezesa BTCS Marka Albina dzisiejszego wystąpienia Prezydenta Republiki Francuskiej Emmanuela Macrona na forum Europarlamentu w Strasburgu, które Marek tłumaczył symultanicznie z francuskiego na polski. Artykuł opublikowany jest również na profilu Marka Albina na LinkedIn.


Debate with the President of the French Republic on the Future of Europe.

Nobody stole the show from French President Emmanuel Macron during his speech and debate with the European MPs today in Strasburg, even if many participants tried very hard. Belgian leader of the Greens Philippe Lamberts perhaps got closest to touchdown. After criticising Macron’s policy and speech, he switched to performance mode and offered the French President a gift: a climbing rope. By that gesture, Philippe Lamberts referred to Macron’s famous line about “les premiers de la cordée” (lead climbers heading a climbing party, all of them holding the same climbing rope). As opposed to Macron’s original idea: “do not throw stones at lead climbers in the society lest their fall and sink the whole party into the abyss behind them”, Philippe Lamberts decided to remind the French President that the essential thing was the thread (rope) holding all the climbing party members together, ensuring social cohesion.

Of course this dilemma is as old as the secular fight between the left and the right. Lamberts’ performance and metaphor have the merit to uncover the true nature of Macron’s political identity, which seems light years away from the left.

During his speech the French President presented the whole gamut of his idées fixes: more Europe everywhere, thorough reform of Eurozone, robust programme to support orderly migration, pugnacious fight against climate change, etc. He proposed new taxes: a carbon tax designed to fight climate change and a levy on digital economy to be paid by digital giants.


Debate with the President of the French Republic on the Future of Europe. przez @Europarl_EN

Emmanuel Macron also voiced a strong opposition to the rise of right-wing populism and authoritarian rule in the EU: “Faced with authoritarianism, the answer is not democratic authoritarianism, but the authority of democracy”, he said in one of the most memorable lines of his speech.

As remedy against this challenging environment, the French President called for a renewed sense of “European sovereignty”. That concept was perhaps the focal point of Marcon’s performance this morning. The question is the following: what does exactly Macron have in mind when he uses this construct of “European sovereignty”? Chances are he means the full potential of 28 (27?) Member States gravitating around their “natural” centre of gravity, i.e. French interests. Chances also are Chancellor Merkel cherishes the same idea for Germany. This old  concept dates back to Louis XIV or Frederic Barbarossa, but still offers some degree of attraction to smaller European states.

Brilliant as usual, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker perhaps offered the best comment on this memorable morning debate: “The true France is back”.