New Delhi - French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! has won a solid majority in the French National Assembly. This means that the new French presidency now has a strong hand to effect much-needed reforms in the French economy.
New Delhi – French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! has won a solid majority in the French National Assembly. This means that the new French presidency now has a strong hand to effect much-needed reforms in the French economy.
There’s no denying the fact that France’s welfare state model is no longer sustainable. It has not only impeded France’s economic progress but also led to considerable resentment within French society itself.
But Macron promises to change all that and revive animal spirits within the French economy. And an economically stronger France will not only be an asset for Europe but also provide significant fillip to Paris’ foreign policy. In this respect, it is to be noted that France’s connections with Africa are very important. Paris’ historical links with North Africa and Francophone West Africa should serve it well at a time when this part of the world is expected to be the next global growth hub. Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges. Despite improvements in governance systems that have led to a rising middle class across Africa, countries on the continent are yet to exploit their full potential and become self-sufficient in critical areas.
Add to this security infirmities that have seen extremist groups expand their operations in Africa. The suspected jihadist attack on a tourist resort in Mali where at least two people have died exemplifies this point. Mali is a former French colony where in 2013 French forces had helped Malian troops in repelling Islamist extremists and Tuareg insurgents in that country’s north. However, Mali is yet to stabilise today with the threat of militancy still looming. In that sense, Mali is a classic example of how France is still relevant in Africa today.
But for a strong Macron presidency to formulate a new Africa policy, Paris needs a stable African partner. And that partner can be no other than the North African nation of Morocco. It will be recalled that Morocco too was a French protectorate till 1956. Today, Morocco is not only the most dynamic economy in North Africa but has also become the second largest investor on the continent. Add to this Morocco’s King Mohammed VI’s vision of pushing South-South cooperation among sister African nations. According to this policy framework, African nations must rely on their own strengths and resources, as well as partner with each other, to forge common success. It is with this principle in mind that Morocco has over recent years boosted its economic engagements with countries of the Sahara and Sahel regions.
Plus, economic cooperation and common development are also crucial for security in Africa. For, only when standards of living improve and there are enough jobs can people be fortified from the predations of extremist groups and radical thought. It is against this backdrop, that France needs to inject fresh energy into its ties with Morocco. We have already seen signs of this with Macron’s recent two-day visit to Morocco where he expressed a desire to formulate a new tripartite partnership between Europe, the Maghreb and Africa, and synchronise appropriate policies with Morocco. Given this scenario, the new France-Morocco relationship is slated to become an important axis of global geopolitics.