Europe’s latest “renaissance” was supposed to have started with the collapse of the communist regimes in the East, right after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Despite the magnitude of this development as a political event, however, it did not have a major cultural impact for the simple reason that the experiment of “real socialism” had run its course and was already considered over.
The second paradox is that the attraction of the so-called free world proved to be rather short-lived, and shallow at that, since the reconstruction of Central and Eastern Europe was effectively carried out by proponents of the communist nomenklatura who reappeared within days of the regimes’ collapse.
The result of these two paradoxes is that the former communist countries that were inducted into the European Union are clearly unhappy and “old Europe” is at a political impasse.
At this crucial juncture, and in light of the upcoming European elections in May, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday published his vision for the continent in an op-ed distributed to the newspapers of all the European Union’s 28 member-states, titled “European Renaissance.” In his essay, Macron sets out for debate a series of crucial questions that address the fundamental sickness that ails the union.
It is impossible to know the precise impact of the French president’s initiative on the citizens of Europe, to whom the piece was addressed. The reaction from the bureaucrats in Brussels, however, can best be described as mocking, with one EU official dismissing the French president for “reinventing the wheel” in comments to Reuters.
The French president also has his supporters, of course, including German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, though he comes from the ranks of the Social Democrats, making it even more obvious that Macron’s piece was clearly written with the upcoming elections in mind.
In the meantime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to back the candidacy of Bavarian politician Manfred Weber for European Commission president is unfortunate and his clamoring has not stemmed the outflow of voters from the camp of the Christian Democrats. Citizens are quick to distinguish the ersatz from the real thing, and are turning to the parties of the radical right. It appears, therefore, that Macron’s “European Renaissance” is simply his pre-election platform, an effort to bolster the center-left ahead of the European polls – in short, the usual political games.