Emmanuel Macron 'wants to lead EU project' says Allen
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Angela Merkel’s impending departure as German Chancellor is likely to create a void at the centre of European politics which Mr Macron will be hoping to fill. The French President has for a long time spoken of a need to reform the European Union and since the West’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, has re-ignited aspirations for an EU army. However last month Mr Macron’s plans were compromised after Australia ended a $65 billion (£48 billion) deal with France to form the Aukus security pact with the UK and US and have access to nuclear-powered submarine technology.
Paris called the deal a “stab in the back” while Mr Macron was said to be furious at the move, which widened pre-existing tensions between London and Paris.
With Mr Macron potentially inheriting Mrs Merkel’s spot as Europe’s most influential politician, a French politics expert told Express.co.uk that Mr Macron has “huge control” over the fate of the UK.
Warwick University academic Professor David Lees said: “What we’ll see is a reassertion of French control and influence around the rest of the world, which historically has been very strong but under Macron seems to have decreased.
“This is going to really shift France back on the world stage as a leading power.
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“This all comes on the back of straining relations between France and the UK.
“I would say it’s probably the lowest point in France-British relations, certainly that I can remember.
“That is really going to challenge the UK particularly when it comes to economic and political capital because France will basically dominate Europe now as Germany struggles to reassert itself.”
Professor Lees added: “France has huge control over what happens in the UK ‒ whether that’s the recent immigration crisis, control over who’s able to cross the channel, whether that’s in terms of materials often being channeled through Calais.
“There’s a whole range of measures that I think Macron will seek to use in order to demonstrate French control over Europe ‒ the continent of Europe ‒ not just the European Union.”
Tensions between the UK and France were for the most part triggered by ill-tempered Brexit negotiations.
Yet tempers flared in July as Britain imposed tighter coronavirus restrictions on France than other EU countries ‒ a move thought by the French to be politically motivated.
At the time French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told LCI TV: “The decision is discriminatory towards French people.
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“It is excessive and makes no sense in terms of health policy.
“It has no foundation in science.”
The rift between the two countries was further exacerbated over migrants crossing from France to the UK.
Last month Home Secretary Priti Patel threatened to send back boats of vulnerable people to France and withhold cash for French coastal patrols.
In response France’s interior minister Gerard Darminin accused the UK of plotting “financial blackmail” and violating international maritime law.
With Mr Macron’s likely new position at the centre of Europe, Professor Lees believes the French President will challenge the ambitions of the EU’s rivals, including the UK.
Professor Lees said: “I think it will be a case of trying to challenge the ambitions and the economic clout of some of the rivals of the EU.
“More recently of course we’ve seen that with Australia and the breakdown of the relationship with Australia, and then quite potentially with the UK.
“I think it was really interesting France didn’t recall its ambassadors from the UK when it did recall those from Australia and the US [after the Aukus pact].
“I think there was a bit of condescension there towards the UK and maybe there’s the sense the UK is perhaps not as much of a competitor as maybe the UK thinks it is.”
Professor Lees also said that France’s relationship with the US had “deteriorated” in recent months, adding: “I think certainly with regards to the US it’s going to be a return to some of that energy which was there during the [Jacques] Chirac years.
“Chirac stood up to George Bush, particularly around the Iraq War.”
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