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Biden – Macron: A meeting with thorns


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Macron is the first foreign leader to visit the White House since the midterm elections

By Athena Papakosta

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is meeting today with his American counterpart, Joe Biden. He is the first foreign leader to be welcomed into the White House since the mid-term elections in November and was also the first choice of Donald Trump, halfway through his presidential term, in 2018.

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US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby described Emmanuel Macron as a “dynamic leader” adding that “if you look at what’s happening in Ukraine, what’s happening in the Indo-Pacific region and the tension with China, (you’ll see that ) France is at the center of developments”.

The choice of Macron for the first visit by a foreign leader to the White House since the day of the midterm elections is no accident. The French president has won the French presidential elections twice, keeping the French far-right away from power tooth and nail, while if his dynamics in Europe are also put on the table, then Emmanuel Macron wins points and emerges as an important ally for American president and his goal for democracy to prevail over despotism.

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The two leaders will first have a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office, followed by a joint press conference and a dinner. The French president will be accompanied by his wife, Brigitte Macron, while Grammy-winning musician Jon Batiste will entertain the Bidens’ guests.

Marie Jourdan, a professor at the AtlanticCouncil and a former employee of the Department of Defense and the Directorate of International Relations and Strategy, speaking to the Associated Press, emphasized that the first visit by a foreign leader to the White House after the mid-term US elections is being carried out by a European, despite the fact that the US government has recently been focusing its attention on the Indo-Pacific region.

Macron’s visit to the US comes 14 months after the AUKUS agreement between the US, Britain and Australia took Paris-Washington relations to a nadir with France recalling its ambassador from the US capital. The two leaders met at the G20 Summit in Rome, with Biden himself trying to “fix” things by admitting that his administration’s handling of the matter had been a bit… rough.

Over time, the relationship between the two has evolved for the better, with Emmanuel Macron representing one of the US president’s most forward-thinking European allies in the Western response to the war in Ukraine. But there are still points of tension between them.

The issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be at the center of the talks as the two men’s differences come to the fore over how that war will end and how the burden of its effects can be shared by its economies. West.

“There is a demanding political dialogue going on in the sense that we are allies but we are not on the same wavelength,” said a senior adviser to Emmanuel Macron who did not want to be named, the New York Times reported.

The American president has cut off the air of his French counterpart when the latter spoke openly in favor of ending the war at the dialogue table and not on the battlefield. In particular, Joe Biden has responded time and again that this is a decision that is entirely in the hands of the Ukrainian leadership while insisting, at the same time, that Ukraine must win the war even though as winter approaches the prospect of talks seems to be fading. is slowly gaining ground. At the same time, Emmanuel Macron recently emphasized that he will speak again and indeed soon with Vladimir Putin, keeping his communication with the Russian president open.

A particularly pressing issue is also the Biden Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), for which both France and other European states have expressed their displeasure, citing unfair economic competition. And this is because in the Biden law there is a provision regarding the provision of tax credits to consumers who buy electric vehicles that are manufactured in North America. Analysts are already highlighting the irritation of many European industrialists who say “we are already suffering because of the war and while you don’t want us to have relations with China, now you don’t buy from us”.

The position of the French Minister of Finance, Bouno Lemaire, on the France 3 television station is also indicative, where he underlined that “perhaps the time has come for Europe to promote its own production. That’s what China is doing, that’s what the US is doing.”

According to a French official – who spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity – the French president will stress to his American counterpart that “Europe, like the United States of America, should emerge stronger and not weaker” while the planet is trying to recover from the adventure of the coronavirus pandemic but also from the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, firmly resisting the politics of benefits.

And while the French president will seek to continue smooth access for European businesses to the US market, the White House will try to emphasize as a counterweight to the negotiating table that the bill in question helps the US respond to global efforts to curb climate change while showing how the legislation will create new opportunities for Europe’s companies.

But the Europeans are unhappy with the American side losing less than them. Typical is the report of a columnist from the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera who talks about “golden jobs for Americans” to complement “sacrifices and record inflation in Europe”.

“Biden has to consider what will happen after the war. The European Union bears the brunt of the sanctions. There is a risk that the imbalances will worsen further as the EU pays higher energy prices and the US takes steps to boost its industry,” another French official told Politico, also anonymously.

Indeed, natural gas prices are the thorniest issue between the two sides as they are determined by the market but the Elysée insists that the US president has options to drop them.

Emmanuel Macron has already spoken of double standards on the part of Washington, stressing that the US is creating double standards as with its policy it keeps the prices of natural gas low within itself but shoots them up to sell to third countries.

More recently, on the same wavelength, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, appeared in an interview with Politico, calling on Washington to respond to European concerns, stressing that “the Americans – our friends – make decisions that have an economic impact on us.” But the response from Washington was not very encouraging as a representative of the National Security Council said that exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US “allowed Europe to distance itself from Russia” to add that “the increase in natural gas prices in Europe is caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his energy war against Europe.”

At the same time, the puzzle of European discontent is being completed by the possible increase in orders for the acquisition of US-made military equipment as European military stockpiles are reduced due to the shipment of weapons to Ukraine.

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