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26 Apr, 2024 17:32

‘Our Europe could die,’ Macron says. Who’s the killer?

The French president has given a speech to highlight the EU’s achievements – but there’s little to celebrate
‘Our Europe could die,’ Macron says. Who’s the killer?

“We must be clear about the fact that our Europe today is mortal,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech this week. “She can die, and it depends only on our choices. But these choices are to be made now.”

What Macron portrays as an urgent need to resuscitate the EU comes after he himself has spent nearly seven years in power, having even been president of the Council of the European Union in 2022. He’s been credited for the nomination and confirmation of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, described by Forbes last year as the world’s most powerful woman. Or, as some might say, an unelected, omnipotent bureaucrat whose supranational authoritarianism supersedes the democratic process of member states. Or, as others might now say after Macron’s address, the Nurse Ratched at the EU’s deathbed.

Macron’s interminable speech should have been one big mea culpa on behalf of the EU’s establishment class. Tell us how you screwed up. At least then we’d know that there was hope for an actual course correction rather than just more of the same.

Instead, Macron argued that the EU hasn’t ever been a vassal of Washington. Saying that you’re not a vassal is exactly like having to tell people you’re not a prostitute. It’s not something that one has to go around saying if the optics aren’t already glaring. Queen Ursula is basically America’s viceroy in Europe at this point, and Macron himself can’t seem to manage to carve out any positions independent of the US that last longer than the time it takes for Uncle Sam to reach over and administer a transatlantic spanking.

Macron’s speech was a fascinating blend of delusion and insecurity. He chose Paris’ Sorbonne University as the venue. The theme? Stocktake of European action.” Sure, tell us what’s really going on as though you had a clue – and an actual strategy and vision that wasn’t subjected to the constant whims and trends of the moment or any given election cycle.

Macron gave a similar speech at the Sorbonne in September 2017. Why there? Because as Macron said last time, “living collectively was the ideal of Robert de Sorbon” – the theologian who founded the university. It just so happens that circling the drain collectively is what the EU is really all about right now, thanks to the special brand of iron-fisted incompetence of those in charge. There’s a European Parliament election coming up, and the populists are surging in the polls right now.

The first step to recovery is admitting that there’s a problem. Macron, however, apparently feels compelled to do the opposite of that, and talk about all of the EU’s failures as though they’re successes. Like counterterrorism, for instance. France has made such great progress on that front that the country is now back on the highest alert just days before it's slated to host the Paris Olympics, including an open air Opening Ceremony along the Seine. It barely seems to have ever been downgraded from high alert; the initially white terror warning signs have been turning yellow from years of light exposure in the windows of buildings where they’re now permanent fixtures. Macron, however, highlighted the role of a new bureaucratic entity called the ECOFIN Council. Because nothing deters terrorists more than meetings.

In addressing Africa, Macron underscored the importance of another meeting: the “European Union - Africa Summit” held two years ago. The sparse content in the Africa section of Macron’s talk could be explained by minor details like French troops being drop-kicked back across the Mediterranean by African countries after French stability missions resulted in coups (which are kind of the opposite of stability).

Clearly not deterred by any inconvenient discrepancies between reality and projected fantasy, Macron’s speech also celebrated addressing the migration challenge, which the EU has basically paid to outsource to countries like Turkey, Tunisia, Mauritania and Egypt. The last I checked, none of these countries were actually in Europe. But the EU has outsourced almost everything else by this point, so they may as well.

Macron talked about the EU leading the ecological and environmental transition. To what, exactly? Poverty, probably. Just ask the farmers straitjacketed by Brussels' climate change diktats, their farmland being spied on by satellites to ensure compliance, how great that is. He brought up the EU’s energy sovereignty and reindustrialization. Not so fast; Germany in particular is still busy going in the opposite direction and de-industrializing. So it might be a while before the EU’s economic engine comes out on the flip side.

The EU has become more dependent on pricier American liquefied natural gas, which sounds like the opposite of sovereignty. France’s own LNG imports from the country the EU implies an explicit need to be sovereign from — Russia — are now up 75% in the first few months of this year, compared to a year ago. France was Russia’s top customer for LNG in Europe last February, according to a Politico report. For all the noise it makes, it’s not like the EU has stopped importing gas from Russia. They just replaced their Russian pipeline gas imports with Russian LNG – a billion dollars worth of Russian arctic liquified natural gas into the EU every month, to be exact. In 2023, the bloc was actually still importing 15% of its pipeline gas from Russia, according to Reuters. While that’s down from 45% before the conflict in Ukraine, it still might come as a shock to people who were actually listening to Brussels brag about how they were sticking it to Putin by depriving him of energy revenues, that they were still importing any pipeline gas at all. The NGO Global Witness reported last year that the EU really just pivoted to importing Russian liquefied natural gas, instead of pipeline gas, with Russian LNG imports into the EU jumping 40% since the onset of the conflict — even more than in each of the previous two years. 

Speaking of Ukraine, Macron said that “the sina qua non condition for our security is that Russia does not win the war of aggression it is waging against Ukraine. This is essential.” What’s more essential is that Macron should spell out what Ukraine “winning” actually means. It would seem that Ukraine not continuing to senselessly grind down its demographics should be seen as a win, given the non-zero chance of a battlefield game-changer that risks igniting a Third World War. Macron, however, clearly has other ideas, what with all his cosplaying as Napoleon Bonaparte and fantasizing about smoking Russians by openly talking about sending French troops to Ukraine.

Not that Ukraine is actually in the EU, but Macron now explains that the EU has “started to rethink our geography within the boundaries of our neighborhood.” Imagine the EU’s reaction to Russia uttering those same words.

In the end, however, this is just another speech, calibrated for maximum impact ahead of the upcoming June EU parliamentary elections. Like much of what EU leaders such as Macron are peddling nowadays, firehosing reality and diluting it with ideological rhetoric might tug on a few hearts, but won’t win over any brain that isn’t totally shot full of holes like a block of Comté.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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