- Macron Eyes Expanding His Movement Across Europe
by Peter Müller and Christian Reiermann, http://www.spiegel.de/
French President Emmanuel Macron launched a brand new political movement in his bid for the French presidency. Now, he wants to do the same for Europe. But the Brussels establishment is wary.
In just a few weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron is slated to speak to members of European Parliament in Strasbourg. Already, though, leading MEPs are getting their responses ready. Philippe Lamberts, for example, floor leader for the Green Party, intends to excoriate what he sees as Macron’s cold-hearted approach to those in need — despite the French president’s devotion to improving the European Union. Floor leaders from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the European United Left will also be taking the floor following Macron’s speech in April — and they, too, won’t be exclusively complimentary.
Indeed, it has already become clear that the French president’s first appearance in front of the European Parliament will be anything but a cakewalk. The man who saved Europe from Marine Le Pen must now prepare himself for a frosty reception in Strasbourg. But Macron shouldn’t be surprised: After all, the French president has said he intends to continue in Europe what he has started in France: destroying the traditional parties on the center-left and center-right and replacing them with a new centrist movement. “I will not leave those major European parties a monopoly on the debate about Europe and the European elections!” he said in his Sorbonne speech last September.
And now, politicians in Brussels know that he meant what he said, and that he is serious about challenging them and the established party structure. Macron wants to fundamentally change how politics is practiced in Brussels, and he wants to do so to his own advantage. But while Macron may be the leading voice on European reform at the moment, he lacks troops in Brussels. His En Marche! movement currently doesn’t have a single delegate in the European Parliament and he also lacks a representative on the European Commission, with the French commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, coming from the Socialist Party.
Macron isn’t just interested in having the largest possible parliamentary group with En Marche! and allied parties following 2019 European Parliament elections. The French president is particularly focused on increasing his own influence to the point that he can be a major voice in determining the future EU leadership, including the Commission president, the European Council president and the head of the European Central Bank (ECB).