Two days after his reinvestment as French president, Emmanuel Macron presented his roadmap for the EU last Monday in Strasbourg, before the European Parliament. Despite his strong leadership, it will not be easy for Macron to advance on two of his proposals: the revision of the treaties and the idea of ​​creating a “European political community” to make the long wait for the candidate countries to enter the club more bearable. European.

Macron has recovered the old and short-lived “European confederation” initiative launched by François Mitterrand in December 1989, a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This approach has been elaborated and defended behind the scenes by former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta – today leader of the Democratic Party – with the discreet support of the current head of government in Rome, Mario Draghi.

Macron’s problem is that, in a fit of undiplomatic sincerity, he admitted in Strasbourg that Ukraine’s accession to the EU may take “many years, actually several decades”. “You have to tell the truth,” he said.

Kyiv’s decision was immediate. His Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba, warned that “Ukraine’s accession to the EU is a question of war or peace in Europe”, and recalled that one of the reasons for the Russian invasion was that “Putin was convinced that Europe I didn’t need Ukraine.”

President Volodímir Zelenski himself, in a video conference with students from the Sciences Po institute in Paris, showed his disgust with Macron’s words. “Our entry can only strengthen the EU,” he stressed. We cannot be kept at a distance.” Always a skillful communicator, Zelensky used a metaphor to bolster his argument: “We cannot stay in uncertainty permanently. It is as if at a table where the whole family is gathered, you are a guest but they have not given you a chair. It is unfair”.

Explaining his proposal and the genesis of 1989, Macron recalled that the “confederation” conceived by Mitterrand was intended to include Russia, but it soon became clear that this was unfeasible, because it was “too early” and because “it was unacceptable to the states that had just free themselves from the Soviet yoke. Now, obviously, that Russian involvement is even more unthinkable.

There are many unknowns that hover over the new initiative. In reality, this European political community would serve as an antechamber, as a comfortable waiting room, for the candidates to join the EU. In addition to Ukraine, there are eight others: Georgia, Moldova, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo. If his idea were accepted, Macron thinks that these candidate countries would find “a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure and movement of people.”

According to Letta, this continental architecture would mean that, at each European summit, the leaders of the Twenty-seven would meet with their counterparts from the nine candidate countries, an institutionalized 27 9 format. It would be an operating model similar to the G-20. For the Italian leader, who seems to be the brain in the shadows of the plan, this link would help mitigate the frustration of waiting, as has already happened with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and other Eastern countries. It could mean a gradual incorporation into the single market and include a mutual assistance clause, like the one that already exists between the EU partners, in the event of external aggression. That guarantee would make joining NATO unnecessary and would facilitate a way out of the Ukrainian war.

After meeting with Macron in Berlin, Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz had a polite attitude and described his guest’s idea as “very interesting”, but this does not mean that it will end up prospering and soon reach consensus.

The weekly L’Express has written that Macron “hopes to be the conductor of a European transformation that has been made indispensable by the aggressiveness of Vladimir Putin.” There is, however, skepticism about the viability of the Elysée roadmap. “Wanting to force unity, Macron risks division,” Le Monde warned in its editorial. And Le Figaro found that, with the commitment to build a union à la carte, of concentric circles, there is a danger because, in this way, “this Europe will never be a political power”.