Blog AnalysisEuropean policy

The first failure of the French presidency. Russians and Americans negotiate European security. Macron will do the kakou in Nice

(B2) The first ten days of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union have passed. Two major events are taking place in the East. And nothing. Otherwise some nice words. And no concrete proposal. Which is worrying for a presidency which will in reality only count 100 days.

The chairs facing the sea, a symbol of the Promenade des Anglais, but also of a European absence (credit: Ville de Nice)

An electoral presidency already rinsed

Before Christmas, the trumpets were out. We would see what we would see ! The French presidency of the Council of the European Union was in the starting blocks. Ready to roar to defend Europe's place in the world and promote strategic autonomy (read: Emmanuel Macron launches the PFUE. Sovereignty at the top of the poster). Christmas and New Year have passed. And we can only be surprised by the atmosphere of inertia that seems to embrace the Elysée, faced with two major events in the European geopolitical neighborhood. As if she already had no more spring.

Moscow puts on the table a proposal for a treaty..., France simper

The Russian proposal for a new European security framework and the willingness of the Americans to negotiate was, however, an excellent opportunity to put this famous "European sovereignty" into practice. We will mostly content ourselves with empty sentences. The situation " requires that the European Union be able to propose its vision of things, act and sit around the table with the stakeholders to make progress on this subject “says Emmanuel Macron receiving Ursula von der Leyen in Paris on Friday (January 7). He does promise a proposal on " a European security architecture ". But without any specific date. The French president, who we knew was more lively, is one war behind.

Washington takes up the gauntlet. Europe thinks and watches the trains go by

The first negotiations have already begun between Russians and Americans. They formally open this Sunday in Geneva. Between the two greats. Without the Europeans, who remained silent. We haven't heard any counter-proposals yet. The Europeans will not, in fact, have fixed their position on the European security architecture until... at the end of March. Or very late. Too late. And again, for what B2 knows, you shouldn't expect anything too shattering. The Strategic Compass, as we have read it, is a nice, interesting text, but rather general, and ultimately very below the challenges of the new world that is taking shape. Its unraveling has already begun (read: The first strategic compass text. A few key points. The differences weigh).

Russia restores order in its pre-square

Asked about the riots and the repression in Kazakhstan, the French president is content, here again, with a few good words, bird cuicuis: " We are concerned, vigilant, ready and mobilized to be active ". And that's all ! He refers to his neighbor Ursula von der Leyen for the rest. But the President of the European Commission does not have much to offer. “I am monitoring the situation with concern. [...] the violence must stop. To end with a pirouette, in the form of an admission of impotence: The European Union will help where it can. During this time, the Russian special forces (of the 45th airborne brigade of the Spetnaz in particular), Belarusians, Armenians etc. embark on planes, ready to intervene in Kazakhstan to restore order (sorry, for " maintain peace ").

A superb failure

The French president had two superb opportunities to demonstrate how he could put into practice his ideas on the " european power ". He didn't. Unlike his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who in 2008 had jumped on the plane to Moscow at the announcement of the intervention in Georgia (1), he was unable to grasp the wind of history. As already rinsed by the electoral campaign that he leads in front of his European job. On Monday, when the Russians and Americans will negotiate, the " president of europe will also be in the Alpes-Maritimes, to inaugurate the police station in Nice. In a more domestic role. A visit which is mainly due to the fact that the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has shown his support for him. The European at the helm of Europe turns out to be a simple prefect...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) Read on the French presidency of 2008, our complete file No. 90. A look back at the French presidency of the EU in 2008. Marked by crises. Vibrant. A simple statement of the events, put into context, is enough to understand the quality gap between the Sarkozy presidency, which was (in the opinion of all, even the most skeptical about France), a "great moment" of European history, and the Macron presidency, which looks more like a big communication exercise for a junior company.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).