Just two days after the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won a larger-than-expected 13% of the vote in Germany’s federal elections over the weekend - dealing a staggering defeat to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led coalition which suffered its worst electoral showing since 1949 – French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a lesson in contrasts when he gave what the Financial Times described as “the most integrationist speech by a French leader since the creation of the euro.”
Speaking to students at the Sorbonne in Paris, Macron said that "the challenge is vital: the sea walls behind which Europe has thrived have gone,” adding that “we need to trace the only path ensuring our future; it is the refoundation of a sovereign, united and democratic Europe.”
In other words, a United States of Europe.
The dissonance between Macron’s words, and the expression of defiance by German voters, who elevated a right-wing party to Parliament for the first time since World War II, is remarkable considering the unprecedented showing of France’s own nationalist party, the Marine Le Pen-led National Front, in parliamentary elections earlier this year, according to the Financial Times.
Put another way, while voters on the continent are expressing serious reservations about further integration, Macron is proposing that the EU develop a joint “military intervention force”, a shared military budget, and a common budget funded by aggregated tax receipts and supervised by a single finance minister, along the lines of what last week's "State of the Union" speech by Jean-Claude Juncker proposed.
“Among the French president’s numerous proposals were the creation of a “military intervention force” and a common military budget by 2020, a European agency to deal with counter-terrorism intelligence and another to drive “radical innovation” in the economy.
Macron also proposed reviving talks about a financial-transaction tax and a stronger carbon-tax mechanism, while also proposing that every student in France learn to speak at least two foreign EU languages.
In his wide-ranging address, Mr Macron said he wanted to revive talks on the introduction of a financial transaction tax to fund development aid to Africa, sought to introduce a carbon-pricing mechanism and outlined a plan for each youngster to speak at least two foreign EU languages by 2024.
In what was perhaps Macron’s boldest proposal, he pushed for the adoption of pan-European lists of candidates during the next EU parliamentary election, slated for 2019.
He also broke a French taboo by proposing an overhaul of the common agriculture policy and pushed for pan-European lists of candidates for 2019 European parliamentary elections.
However, Mr Macron was more restrained on the question of bolstering the eurozone, which had been billed as the centrepiece of his speech, in spite of a disappointing election result for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the historic breakthrough of the rightwing Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party.
And while Macron has, in the past, expressed support for a shared eurozone budget – a policy goal that is vehemently opposed by politicians in Germany, the eurozone’s largest constituent economy – he stopped short of calling for one in Tuesday’s speech.
He did take an implicit swipe at critics in Berlin who have opposed the idea of a significant eurozone budget because it would imply more risk sharing and fiscal transfers, he added: “I have no red lines, I only have horizons.”
But he stopped short of laying out specific demand on the eurozone, only reiterating his wish for a common budget funded by corporate tax receipts and supervised by a finance minister.
As the FT notes, Merkel and Macron share a diplomatic relationship, and the German Chancellor has said she would consider “small budget” and a common fund to help weaker economies carry out tough reforms, although in light of the post-election reality in which Merkel will have to share power with vehemently anti-integrationist parties, this now looks like a pipe dream.
As for his own constituents, Macron promised the French people that painful budget cuts to public spending, and more business-friendly labor and welfare laws would be offset by more aid from the EU, which of course is the whole point behind this pinnacle in "globalist" thought: while all can share in the growth, other European nations can also jointly fund France's chronic deficits while also sharing sovereignty, an idea which has zero chance of passing now or for the foreseeable future.
Watch the full speech below: