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Charles Michel, Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen walking to a press conference. President of the European Council Charles Michel, left, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrive for a press conference in Versailles, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Macron Is Now the EU’s De Facto Leader

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Many in Brussels are breathing a sigh of relief this week following French President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection in Sunday’s presidential runoff. But now that fears of a Marine Le Pen presidency can be put to rest, eyes are quickly turning to the French legislative elections scheduled for June. The result of those polls will determine just how powerful Macron will be at the European Union level over the next five years. But one thing is clear: The French president currently faces little competition for the title of the EU’s most influential leader.

Since France took over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency in January, Macron has been keen to portray himself as the “president of the EU,” with a broadly sympathetic French media only too eager to apply that moniker. Technically speaking, however, Macron has no formal role in France’s presidency of the Council of the EU, which is the upper house of the bloc’s legislature made up of national ministers. He himself sits in the European Council, the collegiate body of EU national leaders that already has a permanent president, Charles Michel. It is the French government, not its executive, that holds the EU rotational presidency. ...

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