Emmanuel Macron has not only campaigned as an unbashed pro-European, but has placed Europe is at the core of both his domestic and international agendas. Some of his key views are well known already. In particular, he has been an advocate of a Eurozone budget, managed by a Eurozone Minister accountable to a Eurozone Parliament. He has firm positions on Brexit, with a view to protecting the remaining members. He has made clear that he supports a more flexible Europe. He favours debt relief for Greece so as to keep Athens in the Eurozone. He suggested that he could support sanctions against Poland and Hungary in response to their breach of European values. And he has shown interest in new ideas to further democratise European politics. For Macron, Europe is indispensable to shape the international environment, not just survive it. For his approach to succeed and rally the sceptics in France, he will have to convince in Berlin, and also to build coalitions and majorities within the EU around this renewed Franco-German engine. Insisting that if he were to fail, the EU would fail with him will not suffice to establish and implement the positive agenda current challenges require. The key question as viewed from France is whether his approach can garner support in the European Union, and in Berlin in particular.

Germany: The Social Democrats vocally support Macron’s ideas about reforming Europe, through Eurobonds, a eurozone budget or common social policies, because it allows them to criticise Merkel’s EU policy. The Christian Democrats, on the other hand, mostly warn against mutualisation of debt or more German money for Europe. Party politics aside, the German government shares Macron’s principal approach to Europe. Like Macron, Angela Merkel views the EU as a multiplier of Germany’s impact in Europe and beyond. Unlike Macron, however, Merkel takes an ultra-pragmatic approach to the EU policy process. She would like further integration, as does Macron, but she has a profound scepticism of the power of vision in EU affairs. Macron believes in institutional reform to close the gap between Brussels and citizens, while Merkel believes in taking a delivery-focused approach to policy. Macron has sketched out his vision of a new economic deal for Europe, but Merkel’s view is dominated by the reluctance of the German voters to commit more resources to Europe. When reforms get under way in France, the new German government will be open to exploring common approaches to economic growth, investments, and social equality.

Spain: Madrid is keen to advance integration in key areas, in several of which its interests align with those of France. This pertains particularly to the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union, as well as Common Security and Defence Policy. Spain is generally side by side with the French in pushing for further defence cooperation, for instance through the Permanent Structured Cooperation format, where both envisage a pace and benchmarks more ambitious than those currently entertained by the Germans. There is hope that under Macron a more engaged France could give new impetus to integration –  under certain conditions also in a multispeed Europe. Spain’s government does not favour a piecemeal approach and frets about increased fragmentation of the EU. Instead, it contends that this push for integration should be part of a broader process towards revamping a political vision of Europe for our current age, able also to hollow out the case for Euro-phobic populism.

Italy: With the Franco-German engine expected to revive under Macron, Italy will be keen not to be left out of the core that will shape the decision making of a new Europe.  Italians hold a similar view of Europe, and  they  will likely support Macron’s push for the creation of a common EU budget and finance minister, as well as for further EU defence integration. Increasing funds for the Erasmus Programme and replacing the 73 UK MEPs with transnational candidates are further areas of common ground. The new French President could be an Italian ally in efforts toward a more ambitious outcome on climate change, trade, migration and gender issues. They may differ, however, on some foreign policy dossiers, especially sanctions on Russia and the Balkans’ accession process. Macron’s position that sanctions should be automatically renewed does not match with Italy’s. Rome wants, at the very least, a political discussion around sanctions, given that Russia is an important interlocutor for Europe on several regional and multilateral dossiers.  Conversely, Macron is much more cautious on Balkan accession, whereas Rome has always been an ardent supporter of these countries’ right to accession.

Bulgaria: Macron’s election should put Bulgarian politicians on alert. His enthusiasm for flexible integration raises fears that Europe’s focus will now narrow, and that most energy for integration will be directed at eurozone members at the expense of those in the periphery. With the UK gone, the outsiders of the Eurozone will have much less weight and now face a choice - to either clear a path towards membership of the inner circle, or else fall further behind. Beyond that, Bulgaria will have a key mediating role to play in the Brexit negotiations through its rotational presidency of the Council of the EU. Given Macron’s outspoken and tough approach to negotiations, intensive consultations between Paris and Sofia will be useful for both. As a first step, these should address the hole that Britain’s exit will leave in the EU budget, with Bulgaria hoping that any necessary cuts do not unfairly punish those outside the Eurozone.

Poland: After Macron’s victory, the main challenge for Poland will be to establish a working relationship and rebuild a minimum confidence with the new French administration.  Polish-French relations have been marked by a high level of mistrust and disappointment. Macron’s presidency is not likely to improve them any time soon. Macron’s criticism about the state of the rule of law in Poland is one source of tension, in particular given the strong sovereigntist agenda of the Polish government. Macron, as the representative of the liberal, pro-European, and profoundly anti-right-wing-populist mainstream is at odds with what the Warsaw government stands for. The other problem is Macron’s strong interest in an ambitious reform of the eurozone, including a separate eurozone budget – an anathema for Warsaw. Macron is expected to seek realignment with Germany first of all, potentially at the expense of EU unity and Central Eastern Europe. To ease the pain of his economic reforms and adjustment to EU fiscal rules, Macron might be tempted to embark on a protectionist agenda within the EU − boosting the EU’s social pillar, fighting social dumping, and imposing restrictions on labour mobility. For Warsaw, the four freedoms of the single market are the essence of EU integration. This is where French and Polish interests may collide if Macron wants to strike a balance between his pro-European outlook and the need to offer more protection for disenchanted French workers. Poland is likely to find much more common ground with Macron on Russia because he is seen as a staunch supporter of the hard-line approach

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