4/19/16, 6:16 PM CET
Updated 4/21/16, 5:30 AM CET
He’s the fresh-faced French newcomer who some have already likened to former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron last week launched a new political movement — En Marche — and this week embarked on a whirlwind media tour and visit to Brussels. He joined POLITICO’s Ryan Heath, Pierre Briançon and guests at a Playbook Cocktail evening to talk about a new, bipartisan approach to politics, reforming the welfare state and his familiarity with IKEA furniture.
Here are 12 things we learned. You can also listen to the full interview here.
- He ‘felt excluded’ from politics: As a non-politician from France’s administrative elite he was warned not to “play this game.” He wants to harness the energy of outsiders to lay out an “inclusive” political manifesto for his new movement by the end of 2016 at latest.
- A crowd-sourced political census is coming,conducted by volunteers to Macron’s En Marche movement, to be used as the basis for the manifesto.
- The new French class system:The current French welfare state and economic rules which coped so well in the decades after World War II is holding the country back in a more “agile” age, much as the U.K. class system previously blocked Britons.
- National Front succeeds because of failure of main parties: The current political offer is insufficient for France to meet its needs, and the National Front “clan” succeeds only because of the “mediocrity of the debate.”
- Macron won’t commit to François Hollandefor president in 2017:He won’t commit to running himself, either. “I am very close to him,” Macron says, but puts his responsibility to his new movement first.
- He believes 2017 is a unique opportunityfor Germany and France to debate their politics differently, and after the elections, do two things: agree to EU treaty change and agree on more elements of a transfer union to make the EU work more efficiently.
- Democracy is built on the middle classes: Lose them and lose democracy.
- EU too slow to survive domestic political standards:Macron thinks European Commission procedures and pace would not survive domestic political scrutiny — for example taking “nine months instead of two” to take action against cheap Chinese steel imports.
- A reformed Europe is the answer: Despite his criticisms, notably on speed and political commitment to integrate, Macron sees the EU as central to the continent’s solution to many of the problems it faces in the 21st century. “There can be no success without Europe.”
- TTIP is not dead,but he won’t agree a poor compromise just to fit into the U.S. presidential cycle: “We have to be extremely demanding.”
- Rejects the idea that one can’t lead at age 38.“The argument that I am 38 is not an argument … Are you better qualified to understand the current world at 70? … I am much more a risk-taker.”
- He can’t remember the last time he assembled IKEA furniture.But swears he has got out the allen keys it at some point.