The Weekly Dispatch - 4 September 2022
A new Twitter account, the state of the European Union, Macron vows to stop Russia, a plan to combat energy geopolitics, and Laurent Wauquiez triggers the Présidentielles 2027 starting gun.
We Now Have a Twitter Account!
Quick announcement for you all: we now have a twitter account for The French Dispatch!
🇪🇺The State of the European Union
That time of year is rolling back around once again!
Every year in September, the President of the European Commission gives a speech outlining the successes of the previous year and outlining the goals and aims of the coming year, also touching upon longer-term priorities.
This year, it will be taking place at 09h00 on Wednesday 14 September, and you’ll be able to watch it on the EU’s website, over Facebook, and in fact, over just about any social media that allows video streaming.
We’ll be covering this important yearly event over the next few weeks, so make sure you’re subscribed to get future updates on this!
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🇷🇺Macron Vows to Stop Russia
In a two-hour speech delivered at the conference of ambassadors that will have put to rest the claims that Emmanuel Macron leaned in any way to Russia, the French President vowed to maintain France’s humanitarian, economic and military support to Ukraine, and vowed to bolster European unity in order to augment the pressure on Russia.
“We cannot let Russia militarily win the war” he state unequivocally, outlining that France and Europe “must prepare for a long war” and the need to help Ukraine to either win their war of survival militarily, or to put them in a position to win a “negotiated peace” outright.
However, in a move that will disappoint many, he also stated that he would “keep talking” to Russia, underlining the need to “do everything to make a negotiated peace possible” when the time came for such a negotiation.
Stressing the need for Unity in the face of Russian aggression, the need to “not let Europe get divided” was a key part of the speech, and was an overt statement made for both pro-Europeans as well as the diplomats from pro-Russian states over in Central and Eastern Europe.
In a statement that I believe we all agree with, he made it clear that the EU could not and must not align itself with modern “warmongers”, but also could not allow countries from eastern Europe to act alone in support of Kyiv.
Solidarity is the name of the game, and Macron also thanks and praised German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s speech earlier in the week, which he said was “fully in line” with his own hopes and dreams for our European Union.
With the transformation that we’ve seen in European security since the beginning of the Russian Invasion, it’s a fascinating time to be an EU watcher,
⛽ A Plan to Combat Energy Geopolitics
This week also saw Emmanuel Macron chair a defence council in order to take stock of the energy situation ahead of the winter, with the renewed expectation that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will last at least over the mid-term.
Praising French and European efforts to overcome the ongoing crisis, the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher stated that “it is thanks to sobriety and European solidarity that we will be able to avoid restrictive measures”, going on to state that “[France and Europe] have activated all the levers at our hand to prepare for winter. “
In the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion, it was clear that Europe needed to final detach itself from its dependence on Russia, which is why Liquefied natural gas delivers from the United States double in the first-half of 2022. On top of this, France also wants to speed up the pace of imports with Algeria, which currently represent 10% of French imports, and was one of the reasons why President Emmanuel Macron made such a high-profile visit to the country in August.
There are also plans for a new LNG terminal to be built and reads to operate in Le Havre by September 2023, which could inject around 10% of French annual consumption into the current system according to the local prefecture.
However, there have been some criticisms that the project is not a satisfactory answer. Economics professor Anna Creti stated that the problem wasn’t the need to replace the use of Russian gas, but that over the long-term we needed to replace gas in the economy, and that “one day we could regret the construction of such infrastructures.”
At the European level, the European Commission has asked each Member States to reduce their gas consumption by 15% between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023, compared to their average consumption from 2016 to 2021.
However, this plan may be thwarted if the winter is particularly harsh, and the pain is too great.
🔫 Présidentielles 2027 Starting Gun
“Wait a second, didn’t you people just have an election” I hear you all cry out in fear and terror after the last rollercoaster we all suffered together in this lovely little community of ours.
“We did!” comes the responses from our country, “and here we go again!”
Not content to wait until after the 2024 European elections, Laurent Wauqiez has showcased what makes him popular as a politician and has officially decided that he doesn't care about us getting any rest of any kind.
All jokes aside, something interesting is happening here.
Having been an MP at 29, a government spokesman at 32, and vice-president of the predecessor to Les Républicains, the UMP (L'Union pour un mouvement populaire), Le Monde recently described Wauquiez as a ‘steamroller in a hurry’, and who had played the image of a 'bad boy to his advantage.
That is, until it all fell down around his ears in 2019, where he resigned from his party after a catastrophic vote share of 8.5% in the European Elections. Having withdrawn to his region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, where he is currently President, he voluntary stood aside in the 2022 elections, preferring to bide his time and wait.
His official statement, that he “[did not] want to add division to division” in the primaries of his party, may be a cover for his view that Les Républicains were still not ready to contest for leadership of the country, and that neither he nor anyone else would be able to fight against Emmanuel Macron successfully.
Having stated that his “conviction is that we have a mission: to prepare today for the post-Macron period…a huge task to which I want to devote myself entirely”, it’s not outside of the realms of possibility that this was his calculation, with many assuming La République en Marche / Renaissance would be left without any leadership once Emmanuel Macron has left the Elysée for the last time.
However, there’s an interesting point to Wauquiez’ strategy: he doesn’t plan to go through the party to achieve his goals, but rather, is relying on borderline far-right politician Eric Ciotti, who epitomises the hard-line right-wing of the right-wing party.
And Eric Ciotti seems to be signing up for this strategy, who ahead of the party leadership election in December, said that he would like to “accompany Laurent Wauquiez towards the Elysée”, which is giving everyone advanced warning of what is coming down the line.
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