The contrasting ideologies of Macron and Kurz

Two new, young faces have appeared on the European scene, with different approaches to the future of the EU, writes Tomáš Zdechovský.


Tomáš Zdechovský | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Tomáš Zdechovský

Tomáš Zdechovský is a vice-chair of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee

16 Jul 2018

Two new, distinctively younger faces have appeared on the European scene. The first is liberal French President Emmanuel Macron, the second is conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. They are both very charismatic leaders, who do not lack energy to accomplish big changes. There is, however, one major difference between these two young and promising European politicians. Although both pro-European, they each offer a very different vision of the future of Europe. 

When Macron talks about EU reform, he says, “Change in the way France wants, so it is convenient for us, and let’s shape the EU together.” 

He focuses on the interests of France, and particularly on issues on which he is failing deliver considerable reform – labour law, for example. As a result, Macron seeks to apply pressure on the EU to change, to make France more competitive. One example is the posting of workers directive, which he tried to influence in a way that would suit France.  

Macron wants to be a representative of a wider federalism and strong Europe, but he does not want to change the status quo. He has ruled out the discussion on institutional reform based on weakening the French position, for example on the single seat issue, or lowering farming subsidies.  

In contrast, when Sebastian Kurz speaks of EU reform, he wants to make sure everyone is happy. He tries to negotiate a position that would give all the member states, including the smaller ones, an equal role. This approach is also in the interest of the Czech Republic. Kurz wants to reduce the number of seats in the European Parliament and the number of Commissioners (based on a rotating system). He wants investments to modernise the EU to make it more competitive in the area of market and international research. Kurz’s priority is security and this shapes his foreign policy. 

Sebastian Kurz brings fresh wind into the European politics. He has a strong lead in a number of topics (migration crisis, security, or innovation) and I support his view on EU reform. I believe that Europe would massively profit from a decrease in ideologies (leftist or modern liberal) and increase of a sober, conservative approach based on common sense, with less EU intervention.  

Macron will certainly also put more pressure on cooperation in the area of military or more interconnected common foreign policy and economic diplomacy. Kurz will try to give bigger emphasis on the solution of domestic topics, the Schengen system functioning or better police cooperation. They both however believe that the EU needs a change. When and if this change happens will be decided at the next year’s European elections.


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