‘Biggest stumbling block’ – How Hungary could put a stop to Macron’s political community

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Earlier this month France President Emmanuel Macron outlined his idea for a new political group in Europe which would include both members and non-members of the European Union (EU). The 44-year-old remained coy on exact details and it remains unclear whether he has the support to get the plans up and running. Express.co.uk spoke with a political expert to explore how likely Mr Macron is to get his way and what challenges he might have to overcome.

Of the details Mr Macron did release, he revealed that countries, such as the UK, who have already exited the EU would be offered a “full place” in the community.

He said: “This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations adhering to our set of values to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, and the movement of people, especially our youth.

“Joining it would not prejudge future membership in the European Union, necessarily, just as it would not be closed to those who have left.”

So, what are the chances the French President will see his community turn into a reality?

Joel Reland, researcher for the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe, told Express.co.uk that the “nature of EU decision-making” could derail any hopes Mr Macron has.

As a single member state can often veto EU proposals he explained that the final plans would “depend heavily on negotiations”.

In fact, he believes the “single biggest stumbling block” for Mr Macron to tackle could be Hungary, which is currently refusing to sign off on a sixth raft of EU sanctions against Russia.

He said: “The EU has opened a case against Hungary over its erosion of the rule of law.

“If it drags on as a bitter dispute, Hungary could react by deliberately blocking EU plans, including Macron’s vision for a reformed EU.”

Mr Reland added that it will be down to the French President to create the political will in Europe to force his plans over the line.

But according to the researcher Mr Macron’s election victory, in April, and a recent history for pushing proposals through could help to launch his latest plans.

He said: “He is probably the most influential leader in the EU now he has been re-elected.

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“He has had previous success in garnering support for policies which break with tradition, most notably the ‘Next Generation EU’ fund which broke with German economic principles to borrow heavily to help EU members finance their economic recovery from Covid.

“The war in Ukraine also means many EU members are alive to the need to shake up the status quo in Europe, particularly in terms of defence, which is at the heart of Macron’s vision.”

Mr Macron is not the first European politician to propose a plan which strengthens EU ties with its partner countries, such as Ukraine, before granting formal membership.

In April, ex Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, floated the idea of a “European confederation”.

His plan would start with a shared “economic area,” before adding commitments and eventually including a common defence clause for countries who wish to join.

Even if Mr Macron secures unanimous support within the bloc his plan is likely to be held up by lengthy bureaucratic processes in Brussels.

Mr Reland outlined that while “it’s really hard to put an exact time frame” on it “EU treaty change is often a slow process”.

He said: “The Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, started out as a declaration in 2001, with a rejected constitution and a ‘period of reflection’ in between.

“Creating a fully formalised European Political Community based on ‘tiers’ of membership will take years to complete, but we could more quickly see ad hoc developments around the edges which build towards that goal.

“For example, we could see a new forum for defence cooperation with non-EU members, including potentially the UK.”

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