April 08, 2022

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Bolsters Macron’s Pro-EU Platform Ahead of French Election

By Nicholas Lokker and Jason C. Moyer

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrust foreign policy to the forefront of France’s presidential race. Launching his re-election campaign against the backdrop of Europe’s worst war in recent history, Emmanuel Macron promised to defend French values that “the world's disorders are threatening." In a contest usually defined by domestic issues, Macron is set to benefit from this turn of events and, despite recent polls, is poised for victory. Discussions of Macron’s improved electoral prospects often point to his demonstration of leadership as the “Father of the Nation” during the crisis. Less frequently mentioned, however, is the impact of the war on bolstering Macron’s arguments for a more capable European Union—a longstanding pillar of his political identity.

Macron’s four main challengers, by contrast, have not developed serious visions for the future of the European Union. Instead, his opponents use Brussels as a foil to win domestic support. Such a platform has become increasingly untenable in the current moment of international instability, which is demonstrating the importance of a strong and sovereign European Union.

The crisis in Ukraine underscores Macron’s pro-EU platform, vindicating his vision of a stronger Union more capable of projecting power and bolstering his chances of securing another 5-year term.

Since the early days of his first campaign for France’s presidency, Emmanuel Macron has highlighted the importance of the EU. He continued to support it even when the future of the European project seemed under threat throughout the fallout from the 2016 Brexit vote and the rise of numerous far-right political parties across the continent. As best illustrated in his 2017 speech at the Sorbonne, Macron espouses a grandiose vision of a united Europe capable of acting independently and strategically. Despite sparking widespread criticism among skeptics of greater European sovereignty, Macron has stuck to his guns—and ultimately been proven right.

Fast forward to 2022: Russia has invaded Ukraine and the European Union is united amid one of the most black-and-white conflicts of the last century. Once a mere economic organization without a political dimension, it now exerts considerable power in unprecedented ways. The EU has rapidly made unified decisions to implement harsh sanctions against Russia, jointly transfer arms to Ukraine, and commit to bolstering its military capabilities. It has also granted protected status to the more than 3.7 million Ukrainian refugees who have crossed its borders. Although critics might argue that Brussels has not gone far enough, it is clear that the Union is transforming into the powerful international actor that Macron has always envisioned. However, Macron’s opponents have their own plans for France’s relationship to the EU, ideas rooted largely in their domestic political platforms rather than strategic foresight.

Read the full article from The Wilson Center.

  • Podcast
    • August 10, 2022
    A New Phase of the War in Ukraine, with Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds

    Has the war in Ukraine reached a critical turning point? Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the evolution of the military situ...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Michael Kofman & Jeffrey Edmonds

  • Podcast
    • August 5, 2022
    Political Churn in Europe, with Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook and Max Bergmann

    What do the recent upheavals in European politics mean for the future of transatlantic cooperation? Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook and Max Bergmann join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook & Max Bergmann

  • Podcast
    • July 27, 2022
    Ukraine's Window of Opportunity?

    With military circles abuzz that Ukraine might be preparing to launch a counter-offensive against Russian-held Kherson, Michael Kofman of CNA’s Russia team joins War on the Ro...

    By Michael Kofman

  • Podcast
    • July 25, 2022
    The State of EU-China Relations, with Noah Barkin and Francesca Ghiretti

    What have been the latest key developments in EU-China relations? Noah Barkin and Francesca Ghiretti join Carisa Nietsche and Jim Townsend to discuss milestones in the relatio...

    By Carisa Nietsche, Jim Townsend, Noah Barkin & Francesca Ghiretti

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia