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Can Macron and the Liberals save Europe? The Romanian connection

In a strange socio-cultural twist, Romania, traditionally a staunchly Francophile country, has gradually become, in the last years, a hotbed of solid Francophobia.

Romanian intellectuals have turned to an ideology of the markets that regulate themselves with an ardour that would seem outdated and out of place in the West. As with any cultural mode applied in a Bovaric way, a mechanically understood neoliberalism has turned many Romanian intellectuals against Europe and, mostly, against Emmanuel Macron.

It is at least surprising, thus, that the newly created Alliance 2020 USR/PLUS is announcing plans to participate in the negotiations to create a new group in the European Parliament, together with Macron’s En Marche, Ciudadanos (Spain), NEOS (Austria) and Guy Verhofstadt’s ALDE Europe.

“The USR perception is that at the European level we are the equivalent of En Marche”, USR president Dan Barna said.

Negotiations for the formation of the new European Parliamentary Group will begin immediately after the European elections.

“On behalf of the Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, I would like to say to you that we look forward to welcoming you to our group in the next European Parliament. Many things are at stake in these European elections. We must not let nationalists and populists paralyse the European Union. However, this EU does not work well at all. We must therefore renew the EU in order to be able to defend our values ​​and our way of life in the world of tomorrow. To succeed, we need partners in Romania who have credibility in protecting our common European values, credibility in defending the rule of law and fighting corruption,” was the message sent to USR members by Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament.

Macron is seen by the intellectuals and urban youth who form the basis of the Alliance 2020 as too much of a European, as a federalist and a supporter of a further integrated EU. The ALDE boss, the Belgian Guy Verhofstadt himself is suspect for his “leftist” leanings and incomprehensible (for some) appetite for a federalist Europe. Verhofstadt is openly in favour of the pooling of debt and has published a “manifesto for a post-national and federal Europe”, together with that colourful figure, the Green Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who was for years anathema for the right.

” “Macron is bad” is a slogan chanted by a chorus coming from both extremes – either from Viktor Orban’s populists or from Melenchon’s supporters. As for the Francophobia you are referring to, it is linked to the traumas generated by an excessive, invasive bureaucracy – stereotypes that circulate about the functioning of the French state. But the Franco-Romanian ties are older and stronger than this Eurosceptic wave, and France’s influence on the development of the modern Romanian state remains essential. Macron promised a more liberal labor market, and managed to deliver this reform, which was repeatedly abandoned by his precursors. Macron and En Marche want a syncretic vision of politics (ni droite, ni de gauche, as Macron says). USR has positioned itself as a pro-European party from the outset, and we embrace the Macronist vision of Europe, where national sovereignty is not lost in favor of the Brussels bureaucracy, but is strengthened at European level”, said Nicolae Ștefănuță, a candidate for the European elections on behalf of the Alliance 2020 USR Plus.

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