French President Emmanuel Macron sees himself as Europe’s savior, and this week’s European Parliament elections as a make-or-break moment for the beleaguered European Union.
But Macron is no longer the fresh-faced force who marched into a surprising presidential victory to the rhythm of the EU anthem two years ago. His pro-Europe vision has collided with national interests across the continent. And at home, his pro-business policies have given rise to France’s raucous yellow vest uprising.
Macron wanted the May 23-26 European Parliament elections to be his shining moment to push his ambitions for a stronger Europe — but instead, nationalists and populists who blame the 28-nation bloc for piles of problems could achieve unprecedented success. They argue that elitist EU leaders have failed to manage migration and remain out of touch with ordinary workers’ concerns.
“We have a crisis of the European Union. This is a matter of fact. Everywhere in Europe … all the extremes, extreme-rights, are increasing,” Macron said Thursday, making an unexpected appeal for European unity on the sidelines of a technology trade show.
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