Macron concludes the French EU Presidency with four global summits

French President Emmanuel Macron – hard blown during the parliamentary elections that removed the absolute majority of his party group Ensemble – will focus on international politics in the last days of France’s EU presidency.

The week ended with the EU Council meeting, the last to be chaired by France. On Sunday, the G7 gathers in southern Germany. On Monday, members will meet in Brussels and June will end with the meeting in the Ocean.

Ukraine topped the agenda at the EU summit.

According to a 29-point conclusion written by the “France22” presidency, the Brussels group reiterated its “resolute condemnation” of ’s invasion, saying anti-Russian sanctions would continue while providing and macro-economic support to Ukraine.

But the most anticipated result was that the EU granted Ukraine and Moldova the largely symbolic “status of (EU) candidate”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the decision. But angry Balkan leaders criticized Brussels for their stalled applications to join.

Albanian Edi Rama warned of all unreasonable hopes for a speedy process.

“Northern Macedonia is a candidate for 17 years if I have not lost count, since eight, so welcome to Ukraine,” said Rama.

The Kremlin downplayed the decision. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it a domestic European affair.

“It is very important to us that all these processes do not cause more problems for us and more problems in the relations between these countries with us,” he said.

Macron said the EU leaders’ decision sent a very strong signal to Russia that Europeans support Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations.

Georgia has not received the honor yet.

According to an EU memo, the country suffers from a wide range of shortcomings, including excessive political polarization, insufficiently independent and accountable government institutions, and corruption. A process called “de-oligarization” has not made enough progress, it says in the PM.

Powerful signal

Macron, as the leader of one of the world’s seven most industrialized nations, will join EU leaders Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria for an annual G7 summit, this time hosted by Germany.

A G7 communiqué says that the group must send out a powerful signal of unity in such turbulent times. “Solidarity and close cooperation are needed to mitigate the effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine,” the communiqué added.

Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa are also invited.

In addition to the situation in Ukraine, G7 members also seem to be concerned about China’s growth.

Much of the meeting will focus on promoting infrastructure and investment partnerships to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiatives, and “cooperation on foreign and security policy” which may include more confident cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Climate, food security and the fight against cybercrime in the form of “rule-based digital governance” will also be discussed.

The group of industrialized countries that now make up the G7 was created during the oil crisis in 1973 with the United States, West Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan. This “Group of Five” was then expanded with Italy in 1975 and Canada in 1976.

In 1997, Russia joined the G8. But after the takeover of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, it was excluded from the group.

“The right to self-defense”

Most of the G7 leaders will then join the NATO summit in Madrid, between 28 and 30 June.

The crisis in Ukraine seems to have accelerated the Alliance’s determination to strengthen once again.

“Strengthened military and economic support” is provided “to help Ukraine maintain its right to self-defense”, according to a statement on the NATO website, which emphasizes that this is “inscribed in the UN Charter.

“This is based on years of NATO training and assistance since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014,” the statement added.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, previously neutral countries such as and have announced their willingness to join the alliance.

NATO will also launch its central strategic concept, which is reviewed every decade or so.

The latest strategic concept was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010. The new one will build on parts of the 2010 concept that are still relevant and show adjustments to Europe’s new strategic order.

Did NATO’s expansion drive to war?

At the same time, Macron has tried to navigate France through a stream of geopolitical pitfalls.

In addition to the Ukraine crisis, there is growing concern about China’s growing influence in the Pacific, which directly affects French interests in New Caledonia and French Polynesia. There are also tensions with Australia and plans to build a stronger Europe-based defense force that is less dependent on NATO.

‘Main equivalent’

In an article in June published by the prestigious Montaigne Institute, former top diplomat Michel Duclot points out that the Ukraine conflict has led to a split within the EU, where Macron is more for a dialogue with Russia against the harder line of the Baltic states and Poland.

Duclot suggests that Macron should position himself more strongly against Russia, while emphasizing NATO’s central role as Europe’s defense mechanism.

France should also try to limit the effects of sanctions on developing countries, which see the Ukraine problem only as a Western problem.

30 countries pledge to do more to protect the sea at the One Ocean Summit in Brest

In a televised meeting with African Union leaders on June 20, Zelensky fought to create interest in the few African leaders who showed up.

They were more concerned about the increasingly difficult food situation developing in Africa as a direct result of the war between two of the world’s largest grain suppliers.

France can play a role here, says Duclot. “It should listen better to the concerns of countries affected by the effects of the war and the sanctions,” he added.

Whether France holds the EU presidency or not, Macron is Europe’s ‘main counterpart to US President Joe Biden’, according to Duclot.

This means that they must discuss the division of responsibilities in the US’s stronger focus on the Indo-Pacific region – where France has significant interests also in the form of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, islands surrounded by vast stretches of French seas.

China expands military power as far as the French borders with the Solomon Islands Pact

France’s relations with the United States and Australia were hit hard by the creation, in September 2021, of the AUKUS Security Pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, which resulted in the termination of a multi-billion dollar submarine agreement with the French shipbuilder Naval Group.

But the ties will be fixed when Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets Macron in France next week.

Plastic pollution and marine life

The last of the summits that Macron will attend is about nature. The UN Conference on the Sea (June 27 – July 1) in Lisbon is organized by the governments of and Portugal.

Launched in 2017, it offers a platform for heads of state and government, civil society representatives, businessmen, academics and researchers to discuss the catastrophic effects of global warming, pollution and overfishing on marine ecosystems.

The French Government’s Office for Biodiversity intends to take the lead, with the launch of a partnership for marine protected areas, biodiversity and climate change.

In February, Macron hosted the One Ocean Summit in Brest in northwestern France, where ideas were presented for an international treaty to combat plastic pollution, protect French Antarctica and develop marine protected areas on the high seas outside a country’s jurisdiction.

Originally published on RFI

Macron concludes the French EU Presidency with four global summits


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