Angela Merkel’s exit from the EU stage she dominated for 16 years has handed French President Emmanuel Macron an opportunity to take up the mantle of European leadership and press on with his plans for a more independent Europe.
Not so fast, diplomats from across the European Union say.
The energetic French leader has sought to bring a clarity of strategic vision that the bloc under Merkel — often dubbed the “Queen of Europe” — at times lacked, and Brussels has often adopted his vernacular.
But in a post-war Europe founded on consensus, Macron’s direct and abrasive style, coupled with a willingness to go it alone in a bid to shape EU strategy, means he will struggle to fill Merkel’s shoes, senior diplomats across the region said.
“It’s not like Macron can lead Europe alone. No. He has to realize that he has to be careful. He can’t expect people to jump on the French bandwagon,” one diplomat posted to Paris from one of the EU’s…