May 18. 2024. 8:42

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Macron to give ‘Sorbonne II’ speech, hopes to give campaign momentum


French President Emmanuel Macron will next week deliver a speech similar to the one he gave seven years ago at the Sorbonne University, where he laid out a detailed reform agenda for the bloc and revealed his Europhile credentials, a move he and his party hope will pull his party out of the polling slump it is currently in ahead of the European elections.

“I will give a sense of what the country has achieved and where we are heading, especially in the years ahead,” Macron said at a press conference at the end of the two-day European Council.

EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss competitiveness and the future of the single market.

Macron will deliver his speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris on 25 April – ending weeks of speculation over its content and whether it would even take place.

It is likely to be similar – at least in style and symbolism – to his speech at the Sorbonne in 2017, just a few months after taking office for his first term. It was hailed at the time as a powerful and ambitious roadmap for the EU, setting out a clear ‘sovereignty agenda’ and putting the need to revise the EU treaties front and centre.

This time, the ‘Sorbonne II’ speech is expected to assess the crises the bloc has faced over the past five years and set clear goals as Europeans prepare to go to the polls in June 2024—but nothing has been leaked about its exact content.

Renew MEP Fabienne Keller told journalists last week that the French president could expand on some of the ideas he’d put forward in his closing remarks at the conference on the future of the EU in May 2022 – where he had argued against discussing all EU treaty reforms and called for an end to the unanimity rule on foreign policy and fiscal issues.

Contacted by Euractiv, the Elysée did not provide any further information.

The speech comes as Macron’s Renaissance party is going through a rough spell on the EU campaign, with slipping poll numbers. While the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) is well ahead, the Socialists’ top candidate, Raphaël Glucksmann, is on a steady upward trajectory, partly due to vote transfers from Macron’s base.

“I will have the opportunity to participate in the [EU election] campaign,” Macron said on Thursday. The day before, on Wednesday, he also appeared alongside Renaissance’s top candidate, Valérie Hayer, for the first time since she was nominated.

The speech will take place at the same time as MEPs are expected to gather in the European Parliament’s Hemicycle in Strasbourg for their final round of plenary votes.

Euractiv has learned that this unfortunate timing is already a source of frustration among liberal MEPs.

(Theo Bourgery-Gonse | Euractiv.fr)

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