The fiasco of the G7 summit in Canada can strengthen the Franco-German axis and the European Union itself, following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response to President Emmanuel Macron’s reform proposals in the euro zone .
The two European leaders will have to close positions, especially after criticizing Donald Trump harshly after rejecting the G7 statement that had just signed and broke with a tradition of 42 years of choreographed collegiality. To put an end to the doubts, National Security Adviser John Bolton stressed that Trump made clear in Quebec that the G7 can no longer wait for the United States to “remain its bank”. The only thing that matters to Trump is winning his commercial war, an objective incompatible with the G7, which is based on the idea that its members share values and loyalty and not only material interests.
The EU can no longer wait for Washington to return to “normality” in two years: Trump may be that new normal, especially if his mandate marks a turning point in US foreign policy.
It can not be ruled out, as Bolton assures, that the old international order (1945-2018) is condemned. The German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, has warned on Twitter that “with a tweet you can quickly destroy a great confidence. And that is why Europe must remain more united than ever and defend its interests with more zeal. “
In another tweet, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, wrote that “the world order based on rules is threatened by the US itself, until now its main guarantor”. According to a recent survey, today only 17% of Germans consider the US a reliable ally.
In this scenario, Macron and Merkel are needed more than ever. In September 2017 Macron presented his vision of Europe in a vigorous speech at the Sorbonne where he spoke of a European army, a European asylum office, taxes and a common budget administered by a finance minister of the euro zone.
In December, the European Commission presented its own proposals to create a European Monetary Fund (EMF) and endorsed Macron’s ideas. The test of fire for both will come when Trump attacks, as it seems inevitable, against the German automotive industry, generator of much of the German trade surplus with the US, of 64,000 million dollars in 2017. Then it will be seen if Merkel stays with Macron or if you will negotiate on your own. The chancellor appeals to solidarity and loyalty among EU states, but this is no longer enough. Berlin believes that trade and tariff measures against Washington are the only alternative to the greater risk of seeing the EU subjected to constant blackmail by the US.
Merkel had reduced the great ideas of Macron to cheaper and harmless measures, avoiding granting more powers to Brussels and opposing new taxes or paying more to the EU budget. There would be no “debt union”, only “help for self-help”, he stressed. In her campaign in 2017, Merkel noted, however, that “it is time for Europeans to take charge of our own destiny.” The chancellor seems willing to approve an EMF and even a general European budget to facilitate investment and boost growth.
In migration policies, Macron and Merkel defend similar positions after the chancellor has confirmed the failure of the Commission’s quota system. A consensus is now more likely around the asylum and refugee criteria, the deployment of a European border guard and the creation of a community asylum agency.
As for Defense, Merkel supports the European intervention initiative promoted by Macron, which would allow deploying a military force to deal with external crises, although it underlines that Germany would not provide any additional aid to the project and that any German military participation would need authorization from the Bundestag.