How Von Der Leyen took EU countries by surprise with Macron ‘favouritism’

Von der Leyen slams 'unacceptable' treatment of France

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The European Union will change in the wake of political stalwart Angela Merkel’s departure. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has surprised several EU member states recently by showing signs of allegiance and preferential treatment to France and French President Emmanuel Macron. The move would be an important step for Mr von der Leyen given France’s significant place in the EU dynamic.

Angela Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany for 16 years and during that time she has had a huge impact on both the European and global spheres.

Ms Merkel has shared a particularly close relationship with Ms von der Leyen.

Before becoming the Commission President, Ms von der Leyen had been the longest-serving member of Ms Merkel’s cabinet.

Many EU critics claim Ms von der Leyen risks becoming isolated in the wake of Ms Merkel’s departure from the political stage.

However, others believe Ms Merkel’s departure will be a liberating experience for the Commission leader.

Some European leaders have observed Ms von der Leyen acts like a former German defence minister when the German Chancellor is in the room.

However, Ms von der Leyen is not Ms Merkel’s subordinate and therefore in the wake of her leaving politics it could be a road to success for the former.

But many have noted Ms von der Leyen seemed to be lining up her newest closest ally in the recent State of the European Union address.

Speaking at the State of the European Union address, Ms von der Leyen urged for greater military independence from the US and less reliance on Asia for computer chips.

She said the fight for real climate change will depend on the entire world, especially China.

The hour-long speech including her lamenting the inability of the 27 EU member states to come together on a single migration and asylum policy.

She said: “Europe needs a soul, an ideal, and the political will to serve this ideal.”

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One senior diplomat highlighted the Commission President was also keen to elevate French interests.

They told Politico: “French priorities were there at every turn.”

The measures the senior diplomat referred to included the announcement of a new defence summit which will be co-hosted by the French President and Commission President.

The upcoming defence summit will take place in the first half of 2022.

This announcement took other EU countries by surprise, particularly as Ms von der Leyen had given no indication of this intention ahead of her Strasbourg visit.

The Commission President has continued to share favourable comments about France in the wake of the Aukus submarine deal between the UK, USA and Australia.

In agreeing the Aukus deal, Australia cancelled a multibillion-dollar submarine agreement with France.

Anger in Paris is still raw with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian ridiculing Britain’s role in the pact and accusing the UK of “permanent opportunism”.

Mr Le Drian added: “There has been a lie, there has been duplicity, there has been a major breach of trust, there has been contempt, so it’s not OK between us, it’s not OK at all. That means that there is a crisis.”

Many claim Ms von der Leyen’s alliance with French leader Emmanuel Macron is an early move in response to the potential appointment of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as the next German leader.

Paris is pushing for closer EU military integration after Australia pulled out of the Aukus deal.

Mr Macron is on the cusp of becoming the EU’s most influential leader and he is determined to lay foundations for an EU army.

France’s seat on the United Nations Security Council could be put “at the disposal of the European Union” if its governments back Emmanuel Macron’s plans for an EU army, a close ally of the French president has said.

A Social Democratic Party (SPD) would significantly weaken Ms von der Leyen’s centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

This will especially be the case if its largest member loses a seat at the all-powerful European Council table.

Mr Macon will lead the next charge of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency to champion a bolstering of the bloc’s military capabilities.

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