With numerous political crises gripping Europe, 28 newspapers across the EU yesterday published something we all could have done without: a heartwarming letter about unity and progress from none other than Emmanuel Macron.
“Citizens of Europe,” the embattled French president begins, in the characteristically arrogant style for which he has become known, before delving into the Brexit conundrum and the European Union’s crisis of legitimacy.
Brexit, Macron tells us, is a “symbol” of the “danger” the EU finds itself in. Another way to look at it might be that Brexit is a symbol of how broken the European project actually is. But wait, he’s getting to that: The EU, he continues, has “failed to respond to its peoples’ need for protection from the major shocks of the modern world.”
At this point, the reader may be momentarily fooled into thinking Macron is about to show some belated self-awareness, but the hope is short-lived. Sadly, this is not Macron’s letter of resignation. Quelle surprise!
Manu the megalomaniac
You do have to admire his gall. It takes some audacity to pen a letter to the “citizens of Europe” calling for a “European renaissance” when your own citizens have been protesting your failed neoliberal government continually for four months – during which time your personal approval rating dropped to the pathetic low of 18 percent. One would think such humiliation would have encouraged Macron to put a sock in it for a while and engage in some self-reflection. Alas, we live in an upside down world – and the severely unpopular French president is here to make sense of it all for us.
It is in the middle of the second paragraph that Macron starts the blame game, lashing out at Europeans who are “retreating into nationalism” but who offer no “alternative” solutions. The “anger mongers, backed by fake news,” threaten the whole of Europe, he warns.
“Anger mongers” (is that a new one?) typically don’t have very much power over people if there is nothing to be angry about – and there is plenty for many Europeans to be angry about.
the pomposity of @EmmanuelMacron is beyond belief. hated by his citizens, unable to leave his bubble for fear of being attacked by yellow vests, this is how the tin pot Napoleon addresses us https://t.co/Jyuh7ndvjPpic.twitter.com/9tngyoPDTl
— PaulPopper (@formerleft) March 4, 2019
On and on he goes, denouncing next those who “deny the fear felt by our people” and “the doubts that undermine our democracies” – which is somewhat of an odd u-turn for the man whose initial response to rioting on the streets of Paris over declining living standards and austerity was, essentially, “let them eat cake.”
Don’t worry though, he has since come up with some solutions to Europe’s various social and political problems.
Here we go. Hold on to your hats, people.
First up, Macron proposes the creation of a European Agency for the Protection of Democracies (EAPD?), which would provide each EU member state with experts to help protect their election processes against “cyber-attacks and manipulation.”
Remember a few minutes ago when Macron said he does not want to ignore the pain and anger of disenfranchised citizens or deny the legitimate problems plaguing the bloc? That didn’t last long. Now he’s blaming votes for parties he doesn’t approve of on “foreign influence” – the oldest trick in the book.
Scary foreign powers are brainwashing impressionable Europeans into voting for people who (at least claim to) offer alternative solutions to Europe’s problems – and anyone who isn’t jumping for joy over the neoliberal hellscape promoted by Macron and his faux-progressive ilk around the world are just falling victim to “fake news.” Seems legit.
Ironically, while he warns of the danger they pose, it is actually the abject failures of leaders like Macron that has strengthened anti-establishment parties across Europe.
Dealing with migration
Next up, Macron tackles migration, proposing the formation of a common EU border force, a European asylum office (with common acceptance and refusal rules) and a European Council for Internal Security (ECIS?)
Excellent. Let’s create more mega-agencies and supranational bodies that everyone already hates, to be accountable to no one in particular and responsible for the one issue that has been most divisive and controversial across EU member states.
If Britain goes to the polls for a second Brexit referendum and this is the kind of Europe on offer – increased oversight from Brussels by even more anonymous, obtuse EU bodies filled with unelected Eurocrats – let’s all look forward to Brexit chaos, round two.
In the realm of security, Macron proposes a new treaty on defense which will define the EU’s “fundamental obligations” in association with NATO. Of course, this will entail “increased defence spending,” a “mutual defence clause” and a European security council, “with the UK on board” to prepare for “collective decisions.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron himself have both called for a “true, European army” – unsurprising, since Europe has been creeping towards increased militarization for a long time.
Just imagine 27+ states trying to unanimously decide when and where to go to war. Who will make the decision? Will the men and women of Europe march off to become cannon fodder in wars that won’t even be fought for their own country?
It’s just one more thing likely to produce rising anti-EU sentiment across the continent, particularly in countries where citizens (if not the governments) are traditionally more neutrally-minded, like Ireland.
Progress for the workers
Eventually, we move on to concern for the “workers” of Europe. Macron writes that the EU needs a better “social shield”which would guarantee the “same pay for the same work” and an EU minimum wage “appropriate to each country.”
He may talk a big game about Europe being a place where one should be “able to live from one’s work” – but let’s recap what Macron has actually done while in office: He cut taxes for the rich, gave French companies power to more easily fire people and attacked trade unions, some of which accused him of “ideological policies targeting the destruction of our social model” and favoring the “explosion of inequality and the breaking of collective rights.”
It’s no mistake that Macron, a former investment banker, has earned a reputation for being president of the rich and comfortable, completely out of touch with the average French citizen.
He should hardly be surprised that his plea to the rest of Europe will fall on deaf ears.
“Dear Europe,” Emmanuel Macron writes, “I am completely mad.”https://t.co/s6S6MFJYDx
— Ben Cobley (@bencobley) March 5, 2019