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Macron takes Europe's center stage

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-23 07:42

PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron looks like the last, best hope to salvage a unified Europe, as Britain drifts away and Germany bogs down.

The role of knight in shining armor is one Macron relishes, whether he's standing up to US President Donald Trump on climate change, mediating in Middle East crises or crusading to make Paris the world's newest financial capital.

Yet pitfalls await.

The 39-year-old must surmount many hurdles to transform France into the kind of superpower economy that could drive the rest of Europe toward prosperity.

And instead of leaving Macron alone in the spotlight as Europe's superstar, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's troubles in forming a coalition at home may in fact drag him down with her.

"Macron can only really lead Europe if he is in full cooperation with Germany," said Simon Tilford, deputy director of the Centre for European Reform.

"France needs an engaged, cooperative Germany."

A divided, inward-looking Germany hobbles Macron's hopes of revitalizing the European Union and its shared currency through things like a banking union and harmonizing taxes. These ideas were always a hard sell in Germany, and Merkel is now too weakened to push them through.

The mood was somber in Macron's office the morning after Merkel's failure to form a coalition on Sunday night. France wants "its principal partner to be stable and strong", an official said.

In a Europe looking for direction, many see Macron as a much-needed captain.

He's energetic, telegenic and forward-looking. He has a big head and big ideas, and doesn't apologize or flinch when critics target his "Jupiter-like" tendencies.

At European summits, he commands attention, and other leaders seek audiences with him, rivals and supporters alike.

"Along with Merkel, they are the only two leaders of any real stature in Europe at present," notably with Britain, Italy and Spain mired in other troubles, Tilford said.

Ap - Xinhua

Macron takes Europe's center stage

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