Macron’s influence on the European Union

By Antonina Gain, Council of the European Union Participant 2018

In the French presidential campaign of 2017, Macron’s candidacy came across as a real surprise. Formerly part of Hollande’s government, but otherwise largely unknown by the greater public, his arguments and growing popularity led him to a face-off with the second National Front candidate to ever grace the second round: Marine le Pen. The two politicians had little to nothing in common. Their policies and proposed reforms were indeed on opposites sides of the political spectrum. On the 7th of May, 2017, Macron had successfully allied other parties to his cause and became the new President of the Republic.

Throughout his campaign, Macron had always claimed the European Union was a veil of protection for the French that was not to be forgotten or brushed away. His respect for the long-established European institution is also alive with the hope to change it for the better: he has a number of reforms in the core of the EU on his mind. Being one of the only candidates to consistently defend the idea of a unified Europe, he -though not directly- led his opponents to vehemently put the idea of “Frexit” forward. Following this turn of events, some of the French that voted for Macron that did not particularly care for the EU found themselves in a position of somewhat defending it.

The arrival of a new, surprisingly young French president, and most importantly head of a party that takes great pride in offering a new way as opposed to traditional parties, will undoubtedly change the face of the European Union. Indeed, it is the first time such a person finds themself in the position of head of the French State. His role, mainly because of his political belonging, may change from what previous French presidents could have expected. France, along with Germany, has for a long time, been a leader in Europe. The two countries are even called a “couple”. With the re-election of Angela Merkel in March 2018, Macron can rely on a certain amount of support from his neighbouring governments. Indeed, upon her re-election as Chancellor, Merkel made her first diplomatic visit to France, as per usual. The two heads of state have discussed the most pressing matters (migration, eurozone, Syria, and Russia) and have agreed to bring forward a common line of work for the european elections of June 2018.

In a speech at the Sorbonne University in September 2017, Macron has presented himself as not only wanting to support the EU, but also willing to make substantial changes to its core. Some of these changes cause divergences between the French and German leaders. For instance, Macron is very attached to the idea of creating a designated intereor european budget, a stronger parliament and the post of a Minister of the Eurozone. However, Germany is not quite ready to follow. Indeed, being led by a relatively weak and ancient coalition, and animated by a spirit of “not wanting to pay for others”, Germany expresses restraint in these negotiations.

However, contestations are not confined to the couple. They actually flow over it : heads of states of Europe are more and more skeptical towards the power the couple can wield. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, has warned Macron and Merkel that his state would by no means blindly follow eurozone reforms simply because they are conducted by the two. On the other side of the Channel, the British also warn of the possible futures led by France and Germany. The partisans of Brexit advise the countries of Europe to be wary of the “machine” that is the couple.

Aware but not afraid of this competition, Macron steadily paves his way into the European Parliament.

For now, his aim is to make the most out of the newly found weaknesses in the EPP (European People’s Party). The mere mention of these weaknesses would have been impossible even 6 months ago, as it is the biggest coalition in Europe. However, its leaders are slowly moving from a social-democrat point of view, to a downright far-right party. Some groups in it are prone to detach from such ideologies and are as such perfect political allies for the european elections to come.

Macron has addressed most of his speeches at the meetings of EU officials to those that are part of this group : he has warned them about the rise of a form of “european civil war”.

Macron has started his European campaign in April 2018, in preparation for June. His party, for now, seems to be unable to have any kind of popularity on the European level, as its aspirations are mostly French. However, La République en Marche (LREM, Macron’s party) has support from center-right and green parties in Europe.

As we see, Macron is on his way to becoming a true European leader. “France is back”, as he says, alluding to the end of a Europe that is unsure of itself, being replaced by one that is led by strong states. But is France back, championed by Macron, in a way that the EU is ready to accept ? Is the role of France in the Franco-German couple this relevant, when Macron bombed Syria in coordination with May’s Britain and Trump’s America (when Trump himself warns EU leaders that it is high time they stopped relying on American aid) ? And, most importantly, what are the possibilities of the success of his policies in a region where populism is ever growing ?

What will become of this crucial point in European history is yet to be seen. For the sake of the EU and that of Macron’s ideology, we can only hope that the EU will emerge from these new challenges  stronger and more capable of coping with the world it is at the heart of.

 

Please note that the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Munich European Forum e.V.

The Status of Jerusalem

By Yara Naser Aldin, Advocacy Group Participant 2018

On December 6, the President of the United States, Donald Trump broke the seven decades of US policy on Jerusalem and officially announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Moreover, directed the state department to start the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This Decision is not the first. According to history; the United States implemented several acts that arguably violate the basic right of Palestinians to self-determination as well as international conventions.

The City of Jerusalem by Tarek Bakri

In 1948 the United States officially recognised Israel as a State, although the occupied Jerusalem wasn’t part of this Decision. In 1995 the US Congress published the so called “Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995” which calls for the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before May, 1999. However, the act included a provision allowing the US President to sign “a six-month waiver if they deem it necessary” to protect the national security interests of the United States.

Every administration, Since the Bill Clinton presidency, has continued to sign the waiver every half year, despite promising during their presidential campaigns to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Regardless, Trump ordered the state department to start the preparations of the transfer of the Embassy, he also signed the waiver for another 6 months. This was supposed to give the engineers and architects enough time to prepare the new Embassy.

According to the International community, the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 all the actions taken by Israel in Jerusalem are void and have no legal effect. According to the United Nations resolutions, the Israeli occupation could not arrange any rights or native sovereignty implications of the Palestinian people, because the occupation is not entitled to transfer sovereignty over Jerusalem to the occupying power, for temporary and limited-term.

The legal status of Jerusalem rests upon the General Assembly’s resolution 181 of 1947[1] which Israel relies on in order to proclaim the legality of its State. Shortly after, and as a result of the 1948’s war, the division of Jerusalem into “West” and “East” was set. Israel occupied the western part of Jerusalem while Jordan, expanded its jurisdiction to east Jerusalem. In the same year, the UN General Assembly issued another resolution reaffirming the international status of Jerusalem. However, in 1950 Israel ‎‎‎‎declared‎‎‎‎ Jerusalem (West and East) its capital and moved on to establish its government agencies in the western part, in violation of intern‎‎ational laws.[2]

Two Countries in Conflict by Joao Lucas Hilgert

Israel enacted the “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel” in 1980, while the UN Security Council adopted and issued the 476 and 478 resolutions, which declared that the law is “null and void”. It called Israel, the occupying power, to tolerate the binding resolutions and international law. The Security Council ordered the (states that their diplomatic missions in Jerusalem should be withdrawn?). The status of the occupied Jerusalem has been the concern of several UN bodies and International Organisations. Security Council Resolutions 242, 250, 251, 252, 267, 271, 446, 1435,  2334 all called upon Israel to stop its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Further, the General Assembly has adopted hundreds of Resolutions confirming the importance of the fourth Geneva Convention, refusing any Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territories and supporting the fact that Israel’s rule on East Jerusalem is nothing but a military occupation.

The Border seperating Israel and Palestina

Trump’s speech and decision about Jerusalem in accordance to the US law, is based on the Jerusalem Embassy Act 1995, which declares that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel. And thereby, he recognized the “undivided and united” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Embassy act and the recognition violate International laws. The US Supreme Court stated that “the status of Jerusalem should be decided not unilaterally but in consultation with all concerned, or otherwise a unilateral declaration is damaging to the cause of peace and, therefore not, in the interest of the United States”.

The international Court of Justice in an Advisory Opinion in 2004 made the status and the position of Jerusalem clear by stating and reaffirming the illegality of Israel’s apartheid separation wall and settlements; as Israel was bound by the fourth Geneva Convention. Moreover, the Court and Human Rights treaty bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women; made it clear that Israel has the obligation to apply Human Rights Law in the occupied territories.

Palestinian Protesters by Tarek Bakri

Donald Trump’s recognition violates the rights of the Palestinians to security, housing, freedom of movement, to water and sanitation. Therefore, the rights of the Palestinians are threatened by the discriminatory and unlawful acts taken by Israel. As a consequence President Trump is helping Israel to secure these violations as his decision is nothing but a provocation to the integrity of international law institutions.

 

Please note that the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Munich European Forum e.V.

Sources:

[1] UN Resolution 181,” http://www.1948.org.uk/un-resolution-181/, 1948.

[2] Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, “Trump’s Decision to Announce Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel: Motives, Implications, and Prospects”, December 2017.