France’s president Emmanuel Macron finally outlines a vision for a more assertive European Union, at the conclusion of an EU summit in Sofia that President Donald Trump claims was a “lousy” one for US-European relations.
The Europe of Macron’s vision comes from Europe “free of itself”. That includes allowing EU migrants to remain in their countries of origin, tackling China’s economic rise “head on”, increasing solidarity for the poorest countries in Europe and, above all, protecting the Euro currency.
The one country not on board with this vision – at least publicly – is Italy, which has been critical of France’s insistence on fundamental reforms to the EU. Italy wants more money for Italy’s poor regions and is afraid of having to pay more to the EU in return for its protection of the Single Currency.
For his part, Macron believes there should be more growth and trade, which, if done properly, will help ease the pressure on struggling regions and countries such as Italy. This is the more optimistic point of view.
Macron will now see if he can convince people like Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who says he plans to attend the G20 summit in Argentina on Friday. After all, Spain has sent its foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, and the Financial Times is reporting that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is ready to back Macron’s plan for a stronger Europe.
But for now, Conte should stop being so eurosceptic. If he does not do it, the government will look very bad, and the already painful public finances of Italy – the third largest economy in the eurozone – will become critical.