French President Macron decried the so-called “nationalist leprosy” that he claims is sweeping the continent.
He ominously likened the contemporary circumstances to 1920s Europe in obviously implying that the EuroRealist wave that’s been spreading all across the EU might lead to a revival of Nazism, but he went even further by fearmongering about US, Russian, Chinese, and even financial actors’ designs when warning against “being pushed around by foreign powers”. To be frank, some of what he said does make sense, such as the expanding interests that Great Powers have in the EU for their varying reasons and the growing role that populist politics are poised to play in the bloc, but his dire conclusions are meant to scare the European populace into accepting his proposed solutions as the only ones capable of averting the dramatic scenario of a Third World War.
Germany’s political uncertainty over the past year and especially since Merkel announced her intention to retire from political life at the end of her term in 2021 has created space for France to make an attempt at becoming the bloc’s EuroLiberal leader, which explains his hatred of the EuroRealist trend that he’s slurred as a “nationalist leprosy”. This all but preempts any possibility of his country allying with Poland and the Warsaw-led “Three Seas Initiative” against Germany and presenting a unified front for dividing the bloc into Western and Eastern “spheres of influence”, respectively, meaning that Macron is probably making a power play across the entire EU instead of just in France’s natural Western and Southern European regions of interest. Undoubtedly, the bloc’s East-West divide will only deepen.
That’s also the case when it comes to his revived proposal for a “European Army”, which will probably raise fears among the EU’s newer Eastern members that its French-led Western ones intend to implement a so-called “two-speed Europe” for relegating them further into second-class status within this continental institution, possibly as punishment for their EuroRealism. The predicted reaction is that the Polish-led Central & Eastern European states will loudly reaffirm their membership in NATO, much to the US’ delight as it progressively transfers its military focus to that part of the bloc, therefore furthering the ongoing trend of this region replacing the Western one in terms of its overall strategic significance. Interestingly, it also suggests that Poland and France are becoming geopolitical rivals.
Poland has no direct influence on Western European affairs while France is capable of exerting its own in Central & Eastern Europe through its much more influential status in the EU, so any competition between the two is lopsided from the get-go. That being said, it’s difficult to avoid the optics of a rising EuroRealist power challenging the existing EuroLiberal dominance in the continent in practically all respects. While the odds might presently be weighed against Poland when it comes to its ideological competition with Germany and now France, Italy’s recent EuroRealist pivot might change the entire dynamics of this rivalry if Warsaw woos Rome to its side and greatly improve the chances that their shared reform agenda for the bloc achieves some degree of tangible success.