Macron snubbed: French leader given just 10 mins to speak at EU event that was ‘his idea’

Emmanuel Macron discusses the vaccine rollout in France

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Meanwhile a Brussels-based policy analyst predicted the whole event was on the verge of being “hijacked” by those keen to grab “more power and money for the EU”. France’s President has been selected as the first speaker at the grand opening of the Conference on the Future of Europe, in Strasbourg on May 9.

However, the Politico website, citing two insiders, suggested he is unlikely to be able to say very much, given his time slot runs from 2.05pm to 2.15pm.

In addition, Politico suggests Mr Macron may be less than impressed to discovered that he has not been invited to address the subject of “the world that Europe will face in the next years”.

Instead, best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari has been handed the topic, which like Mr Macron he will cover in the space of 10 minutes.

Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told “This is the Conference that many European countries did not want to happen.

“It was a Macron idea and the Federalists in Europe love it but the Macron name is no longer an attractive brand.

“Hence he will open the Conference but I imagine the Federalists would prefer that he does not become associated with it in the public mind. They will try to minimise his role.”

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Mr Bassett added: “Macron is now focused on his re-election bid and with Covid ravaging his country, it will be an uphill task.

“Already Michel Barnier is sniping from the sides, hoping to be the Republican party’s nominee for the election.”

In respect of the conference’s actual objectives, Mr Bassett, author of last year’s Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, said: “A number of countries have banded together to resist further Brussels encroachment on National competencies.

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“Recent opinion polls in Ireland have shown that there is no enthusiasm for further EU expansion into areas like health, education, etc.

“Any Treaty change would require a referendum in Ireland and probably Denmark, neither of which is likely to succeed. Hence Dublin and Copenhagen would hope that this Conference would go away quietly.

“If the Federalists push strongly for ‘more Europe’, it is likely to greatly strengthen euroscepticism in several countries.

“In Ireland, the EU has lost its sheen in the post-Brexit world.”

Meanwhile Pieter Cleppe, a research fellow with the Property Rights Alliance think tank said: “That sounds a bit short, indeed, certainly as it is five minutes shorter than that allotted to each of the conference’s three patron-presidents.

“One would expect the voice of representatives of EU member states to carry more weight than one of the EU dignitaries.”

He added: “From the beginning, the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ has been plagued by infighting on who should preside it, and it is no coincidence to witness this struggle continue.

“While EU Treaty change has been ruled out by diplomats, the question is what the whole point is of this undertaking.

“It would certainly make sense to reflect on the EU’s future, but then big changes would also need to be possible.

“This could for example entail to slim down to EU to its core business, which is scrapping trade barriers.”

However, he warned: “At the moment, everything points at the conference being hijacked by those that want to push for ever more power and money for the EU.”

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