Earlier last week, in accordance with the pledge that Emanuel Macron made together with his wife to host public events in the Elysee Palace each thursday, the sitting French president took part in the symphonic fairy tale for children Peter and the Wolf that was composed by Sergei Prokofiev in mid 30s. According to local media sources, Macron was pretty successful in playing the role of the narrator, while the sympthony itself was performed by the Republican Guard orchestra.
The premiere of Prokofiev’s fairy tale Peter and the Wolf was given in the spring of 1936. Each of the characters in the tale is represented by a certain instrument playing a separate theme. The sympthony was given to some 200 minors suffering from various diseases that were joined by the children of deceased or heavily wounded members of the French security forces.
It is trully symbolic that the report about Macron’s participation in the staging of the above mentioned fairy tale was released together with the announcement that the French president is going to pay an official visit to the United States to meet Donald Trump in mid-April. However, the French media failed to mention the capacity in which Macron is going to be engaged in this “political performance”. Will he be playing the role of Peter or will he be playing the role of the Wolf? This question is hardly rhetorical, since a number of recent events indicates that such matters must be clarified beforehand.
It should be noted that in spite of the previously voiced willingness to “develop and strengthen” Franco-American relations, and a good personal contact with Macron has developed with Donald Trump, a string of rather unpleasant developments would inevitably push the sitting French president into correcting his approach to Washington.
Specifaclly, France’s Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire announced last December that Paris does not approve of America’s “extraterritorial”sanctions, since those introduce unnecessary difficulties into the ties between France and Russia. According to this French minsiter, it’s getting increasingly difficult for EU states to develop trade realtions with Russia, as those sanctions forced imposed by Washington are not only hurting local banks, a but a number of large industries, including those that are engaged in the Europe space industry.
Last year, the spokesperson of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Agnès Romatet-Espagne announced that French authorities are dissatisfied with the extraterritorial nature of American sanction acts, as they exist in clear contradiction with the norms of international law. According to Romate-Espany, in order to protect themselves from the extraterritorial influence of the US and other players, it is imperative for European member states to improve their national legislation to protect local businesses, while developing retaliatory measures that are to be applied to Washington if it is going to expand sanctions without taking into account EU interests.
The problem with US sanctions is becoming especially urgent for Macron and the whole of Europe right now, when Trump announced his intention to impose would impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports, while threatening to inroduce similar tariffs against European car manufacturers.
The European Union has already expressed its extreme concern over such steps, stressing that Washington’s behavoir is a clear example of protectionism being introduced into US trade practices. Europe is also worried about the so-called “steel probe” initiated by the United States, because it can result in the introduction of protectionist measures against certain countries and types of products.
The steps that Donald Trump is making to reduce steel imports in the Us, without a doubt, threatens the very foundation of the WTO. In his interview to Bloomberg, Axel Eggert, the head of the European Steel Association announced that this whole issue can blow up the WTO, adding that this wasn’t a matter of national security, rather a matter of propping up a US industry that lost its viability.
In response to Trump’s steps and actions, the leading EU players have already drafted a paper on the tariffs on Americna products, as it has recently been revealed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Among those goods one can find a wide range of items, starting with orange juice and ending with motorcycles and whiskey, however American agricultural products, including potatoes and tomatoes, are most likely to be the first to suffer stiff tarrifs.
It is noted that Europeans want to cast a blow against those businesses that are run by the closest supporters of the sitting US president. The European Commission would use the list of goods drafted back in the days of a major trade conflict with the Bush adminstration, but would update it significantly. It is emphasized that the response measures that the EU is going to introduce will not contradict the norms of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Following in the wake of such politicians as Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, who signed the historic treaty on the renewal of the Franco-German friendship on January 22, 1963, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have also pledged their commitment to the bilateral relations between those states, hoping to achieve a decisive breakthrough. Therefore, the whole of Europe is eyeing the two powerhorses of the EU economy Germany and France in their approach to the possible relation to the sanction imposed by the US. However, because of the political stagnation in Berlin, which was left without a legitimate government after the September elections, it is Macron, according to European analysts, who should take a stand against Trump for the whole of the EU, presenting the sitting US president with a worthy opponent in economic disucssions.
That’s why, the question becomes especially important: what role will Emmanuel Macron be playing in the forthcoming remake of Peter and the Wolf in Washington next April?
Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”