French President Emmanuel Macron made an ardent case for a stronger, more unified Europe in an op-ed published in outlets across all 28 EU member states ahead of the looming Brexit deadline and European parliamentary elections. But the call for unity received anything but a cohesive response from individual governments. Some old friends offered praise, enemies pounced, and others just rolled their eyes.
In the piece, Macron proposed, among other things, the creation of a European Agency for the Protection of Democracies to protect elections across the continent from cyber-attacks, a common European border force, and a European Climate Bank to finance energy transition processes. He also made more emotional requests for voters to reject nationalism, writing that it is Europe, not the nation-state, that "unites, frees, and protects us."
But with populism on the rise across Europe, and several member states now led by right-wing Euroskeptic parties, it's unlikely that Macron's bold plea will have quite the influence he intended. For example, The Associated Press reports that in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban's leadership has made it one of the countries most on the EU periphery, Macron's column was published only in an obscure business weekly. Later, Orban's government released a statement criticizing Macron's words and accusing him of attempting to censor opposing viewpoints, namely those who support anti-immigration measures. Likewise, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is closely aligned with Orban, expressed his displeasure with Macron, per AP.
In Britain, the piece earned placement in The Guardian, a prestige news outlet, but it disappeared from the website's home page by midday and was buried deep in the print edition.
Macron did receive support from some unsurprising countries such as Germany, Finland, and the European Commission. Read Macron's column at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell