You can still hear it, relief. Olaf Scholz has just received his guest, Emmanuel Macron, with a military distinction, in front of the Chancellery in the glorious May weather. Now he wants to talk right away about the “swing” that Europe can continue after Macron’s re-election as president of France. “In this election, France made a very clear decision in favor of Europe,” the chancellor praised. Such a commitment is important “especially in these difficult times”. In Berlin, the victory of nationalist Marine Le Pen, who was not well-biased towards Germany, was not seriously frightening, but one was not really sure “in these difficult times”.
First of all, Macron appreciates “how important the Franco-German friendship is”, and talks about European unity, climate change and some other things we want to tackle together. It is an unwritten law that the first foreign trip by a German chancellor to Paris and the first foreign trip by a French president to Berlin. 48 hours after being sworn in, Schulze arrived in the French capital in December. Only a few hours had passed since his second inauguration when Macron arrived in Berlin on Monday afternoon from Strasbourg. There are five months between the first two visits. Five months in which the world changed.
In December, Macron and Schulz were still relying on the now-dead Normandy formula, which Germany and France have been trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia since 2014. After the end of the year, it was Macron who initiated the diplomatic initiative, while Schulz still exercised restraint. The Frenchman made many calls and traveled to Moscow and Kiev before Schulze. Schulz, the less visible, played a leading role in preparing the penalties.
Schulz says that the death, suffering and destruction in Ukraine force us to work together
Coordination appears to have worked between the two, both before and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Both are now very keen on the impression that nothing has changed. Schulz spoke to Macron, saying that peace in Europe “has collapsed because of Russia’s appalling war of aggression against Ukraine”. “We want to send a signal of solidarity from the European Union, which is indispensable,” Macron says. So the president and chancellor are talking, albeit somewhat vaguely, about Ukraine’s application for EU membership.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would like more. He symbolically invited Scholz to Kyiv on the day of the Victory Parade in Moscow. Regardless of all the speculation, though, the president and chancellor make no move to leave for Ukraine after dinner. Instead, they take a trip to the much closer Brandenburg Gate, which is lit on May 9, Europe Day, in Ukrainian national colors like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Macron stresses that everything is done together “to achieve a ceasefire, support the Ukrainians and impose sanctions on Russia.” The death, suffering, and destruction in Ukraine, says Schulz, forces us to work together, and brings Europeans together.
For Macron, this is a welcome sign, because for him it is not just a symbolic Monday because of his visit to Berlin. Already at noon he appeared in Strasbourg, where, as President of the Presidency of the European Council, he received proposals for a more democratic European Union. It is the result of the European Future Conference, drawn up by European citizens.
Macron says Ukraine is already a “heart member” of the EU
At a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Macron called for changes to European treaties to make the EU more democratic, independent and efficient. Unanimous commitment should fall on critical policy areas, and parliament should be given more rights. In addition, Macron launched the idea of a new “European political community” outside the EU-27. It aims to give countries like Ukraine, whose accession process would take decades, a home in Europe more quickly. Macron said Ukraine is already a “heart member” of the European Union. Schulz would later call this a “very interesting proposal”, which should not be confused with full approval.
However, the common message on Europe Day, 72 years after French Foreign Minister Robert Schumann paved the way for European unity in his speech in Paris, must be: A free, democratic and pluralistic Europe has been on the right side of history since World War II. – and Vladimir Putin, who was celebrating his victory in Moscow that day, in a wrong win. However, the counselor was not spared the question that had been asked almost every day for weeks. One journalist wants to know if Germany is really doing enough to mark the tipping point and help Ukraine.
Schulz answers this in a routine fashion, speaking again of the “far-reaching decisions” of the federal government, the “military buildup”, the $100 billion special fund, arms deliveries to Ukraine, and the fact that many countries supported the German example. Macron, although not specifically asked about it, could do the chancellor a small favor and praise the German contribution as well. The press conference is over, but the French guest misses this opportunity. Friendship doesn’t go that far after all.