Macron's Foreign Policy Ambitions Meet France's Realities

May 18, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

French soldiers march in a military parade in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2010.

French soldiers march in a 2010 military parade in Dakar, Senegal. As a former colonial empire, France has interests that stretch from sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East, and to the Indian Ocean.

(SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)


  • The current global context gives France an opportunity to try to shape the European Union according to its needs, and to elevate its role in global affairs.
  • But France still depends on key allies, such as the United States and Germany, to achieve many of its foreign policy goals.
  • France will push to increase the European Union's military and economic autonomy, but its dependency on allies, and factors beyond its control, will limit its room for action.

Since taking office a year ago, French President Emmanuel Macron has pursued a busy foreign policy agenda, pushing for greater European integration; visiting the United States, China and India, as well as more than two dozen other countries; authorizing airstrikes in Syria; intervening in a political crisis in Lebanon; and trying to preserve France's influence in its former African colonies. Macron's foreign policy goals -- to reform the European Union according to France's views, while elevating France's influence on global affairs -- follow France's strategic interests, which are simultaneously European and global. Recent developments such as Brexit, the Donald Trump presidency and increasing competition between global powers are opening new foreign policy opportunities for France. But in moving to exploit these opportunities, France is bumping into familiar constraints....

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