France and the EU at a Crossroads: Can Macron Spark a Resurgence?
Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping victory in the French presidential election sent major ripples well past France’s borders. For one thing, it nixed the idea – at least for now — that the European Union (EU) could unravel, a real possibility had Marine Le Pen won, according to analysts. Should a country as large and important to the EU as France follow the U.K. out the door, then a full breakup could not be ruled out. The election in France also marked the third-straight defeat in Europe (following recent elections in the Netherlands and Austria) for candidates pushing more nationalist, protectionist and anti-immigration policies. So, for the time being the surge of what is being called “populism” has been blunted.
Yet, huge challenges remain. These are what European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calls the “polycrisis:” the Greek debt crisis, Brexit, unchecked labor migration and the refugee crisis.
What’s more, progress on these crises would be only a beginning. As Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett notes in an opinion piece below, Macron must push reforms to increase France’s competitiveness and that will “fan the flames of populism in what remains a very divided country.” As for the EU, rebounding from “several body blows this decade” requires French support for “the real political and real fiscal union needed to complement the single market/euro. All this on the shoulders of a 39-year-old just elected to his first office, with a one-year old party that doesn’t yet have any representatives in the French parliament.” This is made even more problematic given that, despite her defeat, Le Pen and her opposition party won a record number of votes.
Below, Knowledge@Wharton offers a special report about the future of France and the EU that provides context and perspective on the far-reaching changes underway:
Image credit: By Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States – French Election: Celebrations at The Louvre, Paris, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58598403