What can one make of this speech of President Macron’s in Athens, on the 7th September? Clearing the bar of abject banality by no more than a whisker, it threatens to set a criterion for the next five years. One thing at least is clear: Macron is perfectly happy to make enemies of presidents Juncker and Tajani, of the European Commission and Parliament respectively, by threatening their prestige. And what should Mutti think? Had the speech been given on the floor of the Bundestag instead of al fresco in Athens, its Teutonic length would have been called into question even by the Empress of Europe.
Macron and Merkel appear to suffer from different strains of utopian delusion. Although at opposite ends of their political careers, both have had apotheosis cast upon them. We are in for a bruising time, then, as matriarch and upstart negotiate the paths of their respective, improbable, and dissonant agendas. Macron is for the siphoning of power from the member-nations into the super-nation, that is, from Berlin to Brussels. No can do. His proposals, as outlined in the speech, sound academic and corny at best: not the best marks of statesmanship.
The speech from the Pnyx is best taken, if taken at all, at a gallop. It is turgid and repetitive, rambling and at times incoherent, although by no means devoid of content. It has been translated by The Europeans from LREM’s transcript, with a clenched-teeth determination that far exceeds the call of duty. Why? Because a ‘Macron baseline’ would be useful, if only to judge the development of his rhetoric over the next five years. Continue reading “Macron in Athens”