While Ukraine continues to battle Russia’s bloody invasion, it’s rapidly seeking membership into the EU, but Mr Macron on Monday rejected a swift application process, suggesting a broader, different club would be more efficient.
The French President proposed the European Confederation as an alternative to the bloc for the list of aspiring member states, including the UK.
According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, a politics and business editor, Macron made a “tantalising constitutional offer to Brexit Britain”.
During his speech, Macron didn’t explicitly name the UK but said the arrangement should be open to “those countries which have left the European Union”.
Mr Evans-Pritchard said the president’s remarks mean “the same thing” as explicitly saying the agreement is open to the UK.
Speaking to European MPs this week, the French leader said: “Let us be clear, the EU cannot be the only means of structuring the European continent”.
His proposal extends to a large group of democratic and liberal states that wish to trade and co-operate on friendly terms without having to accept the full EU package.
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Evans-Pritchard said: “What was deemed impossible during the bitter Brexit talks – and before that as the UK was dragged by perpetual treaty creep into a proto-super state against its will – has suddenly become a fashionable possibility because of Vladimir Putin’s attempt to overthrow the European order by force”.
Mr Macron’s European Confederation is designed to try to tackle the struggle Ukraine is facing in its efforts to join the EU.
But this creates a lot of questions for Brexit-Britain as to whether it would be ready to join another EU realm post-referendum.
Mr Evans-Pritchard said: “The French president told voters before his re-election that he had learned hard lessons in office and would do things differently over the next five years. Perhaps this includes his choice – and it was a choice – to treat the UK as an enemy, something that no other EU leader has done since the Referendum.
“The gesture is an olive branch from Paris and should be taken as such. It would be unwise for Downing Street to force a showdown over the Northern Irish Protocol at this juncture”.
Macron’s proposal has got support from the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi after the former PM Enrico Letta proposed a confederation of 36 states in a paper last month.
Charles Grant, from the Centre for European Reform, said the plan has support from the EU’s President Charles Michel and the Council secretariat.
He said: “The move is highly significant. There is a strong desire for a rapprochement with the UK, and they might even be willing to rewrite the Protocol if there is a different prime minister”.
According to the political editor, President Macron “seems to be proposing the very relationship with Europe that middle Britain has long sought”.
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During his speech, Macron said: “This new European organisation would offer democratic nations, which adhere to our core values, a new space for political cooperation on security, energy, transport, infrastructure investment and free movement of people, especially our young people”.
The proposal also implies that Ukraine and other countries would have a higher degree of access to the single market, potentially reopening aspects of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
For Britain, it is full of seductive possibilities, the answer for millions of us who want the sort of relationship with Europe that Canada has with the United States. It is not such a scandalous thing to ask after all.
Mr Evans-Pritchard said: “For Britain, it is full of seductive possibilities, the answer for millions of us who want the sort of relationship with Europe that Canada has with the United States. It is not such a scandalous thing to ask after all.”