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France rises as new French President reaches out to President Trump

Trump and Macron

At a joint press conference, President Trump hints to President Macron that he may change his mind about climate change (Photo: CNN)

By Maria Saporta

The ascension of France on the global stage was exemplified on July 14 – Bastille Day – when Frenchman Warren Barguil gave France its first Bastille Day Tour de France victory in 12 years.

But an even more significant sign was when U.S. President Donald Trump accepted an invitation from the recently-elected President of France – Emmanuel Macron – to spend Bastille Day in Paris.

The symbolic and substantive gesture highlights an emerging presence of France on the European and global landscape. All signs point to Macron opening up a channel of communication between the United States and France, and thereby Europe.

World Affairs Council

Charles Shapiro of the World Affairs Council hosts conversation about the “New Face of France” with French Consul General Louis de Corail and François Bresson of Orange Business Services (Photo by Maria Saporta)

In anticipation of Bastille Day (known in France as la Fête Nationale), the World Affairs Council of Atlanta held a program on July 11 titled: “The New Face of France.”

Ambassador Charles Shapiro, president of Atlanta’s World Affairs Council, opened the program by declaring Macron is the new face of France. The observation also has been made that France is becoming the new face of Europe.

“In the United States we are overly fixated on Brexit where the real story is that France is back and the EU is back,” Shapiro said.

When the United Kingdom decided to pull out of the European Union last year, it caused heartburn in Europe that the continent’s efforts to create a unified economy could be faltering.

But Macron’s election helped stem that fear when he defeated Marine Le Pen, who had campaigned against the European Union. Shapiro said his election solidified the powerful axis between Germany and France, the two largest economies in Europe.

And Macron’s overture to Trump places the French President in a unique position – a European leader who is building a relationship with the president of the United States.

The World Affairs Council panel, which occurred three days before the Trump-Macron meeting, outlined what is at stake.

“The two presidents have met already two times since President Macron was elected,” said Louis de Corail, France’s consul general in Atlanta, at the Tuesday panel. “They are going to meet a third time on Friday. It’s not a bad relationship in that regard.”

De Corail also said: “There’s nothing good about Brexit. We, the French and the Germans,…are rightfully fixated on Brexit. It’s the biggest event since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.”

Again the French election helped reverse the anti-EU movement that seemed to be sweeping Europe. Also, Macron represents a dramatic shift in France.

“From a political standpoint, it is a big change,” said François Bresson, head of finance Americas for Orange Business Services, at the panel. “It’s a new political party. There’s a feeling of optimism.”

Bresson said Macron is leading France at a time when the “economy is recovering at last,” and there’s an expectation that he will enact social and economic reforms.

Trump and Macron

At a joint press conference, President Trump hints to President Macron that he may change his mind about climate change (Photo: CNN)

“This country has not seen any economic reforms since 1995,” Bresson said. “There’s a lot to be done from an economic perspective,” adding that. there is a desire to reform the labor law and to reduce the role of unions.

From an external standpoint, Macron’s relationship with Trump could be extremely influential on U.S. policy on climate change. On June 1, Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement originally signed by every country on Earth except Syria and Nicaragua.

“In terms of climate change, we have a strong disagreement on that point,” de Corail said before Trump’s Bastille Day trip to Paris. “I’m sure President Trump and President Macron will discuss this topic on Friday.”

In fact, actually progress maybe underway. During a press conference in Paris, Trump seemed to be reconsidering his decision to withdraw from the climate agreement. Apparently that was one of the major topics the two presidents discussed.

Still, Bresson said the election of Trump and his policy to place America first, has already had its impact in France and Europe.

There’s a sentiment today that “Europeans as a whole, that we should take our destiny into our own hands,” Bresson said. “The Trump presidency forces us to think about who we are – without the United States… I see that as positive.”

The European Community likely will include its military investments as a way to make sure it is not dependent on U.S. economic support.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Française d’Atlanta, celebrated Bastille Day Saturday night with its annual party at the Nelson Mullins’ law firm in Atlantic Station.

De Corail put all the political changes – both in the United States and in France – in perspective.

“Presidents come and go,” de Corail said. “Yet the relationship remains.”

Vive la France!

DeShawn and Helene

DeShawn Dominique Jenkins, the new executive director of the Alliance Française d’Atlanta, with her predecessor, Helene Couralt-Touré, at Bastille Day celebration (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Bastille Day

Attendees at the Alliance Française Bastille Day look at fireworks going off at Piedmont Park (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Bastille Day

Maria Saporta and son David Luse enjoy a moment at Bastille Day party (Photo: The Atlantan)

Bastille Day

Alliance Française Bastille Day party at Nelson Mullins at Atlantic Station has one of the best skyline views of Atlanta (Photo by Maria Saporta)


Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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  1. Nadia Girardot July 18, 2017 11:56 am

    Hello Maria, I could not make it to the celebration of Bastille Day last Saturday, and missed seeing you on the occasion, as has been the case for many years.
    On another subject, thank you for such a good summary of the relationship between France, Europe and the United States! President Macron’s diplomatic skills are amazing, and may well result in bringing the United States back where we belong and among the 195 nations who signed the Paris Accord on December 12, 2015. President Trump has given signs that it may happen. As they say, “where there is a will, there is a way”. For the sake of our planet and the future and health of our children, let’s hope that he has the will to find the way.Report

    1. metitometin July 21, 2017 9:33 am

      Keep dreaming. Trump will believe in Global Warming once the checks stop coming in from the fossil fuel companies.Report

  2. Susan Varlamoff July 19, 2017 8:38 am

    Maria, Just returned from Brussels and I can tell you that the Europeans are thrilled with Macron and not enamored with Trump. They feel hopeful Macron will have a positive influence on Trump and I think he has already. Europe and the world needs a young leader like Macron who by the way is a scholar and who has the energy, enthusiasm, intelligence and passion to succeed on behalf of his country and the world with regards to climate change. I think Macron can convince Trump to reconsider his withdrawal from the Paris accord.Report

  3. brainstar8 July 19, 2017 11:11 am

    Happy talk about France’s triumphant “return” is nice, but the reality is that the country has a big hole to dig out of – and Macron’s election is just the beginning. For several years its economy has been flat (or worse) due to loss of tourism, as well as an exit of many of its younger professionals to other parts of the EU or to the U.S. The fear factor is still there, too.

    As for the Paris Accord, it’s a favorite past time for the elite, including media, to tout. But the truth is it has no teeth. It was something for Obama to do during his last two years in office, after his leadership had gutted his own party and Syria had spawned ISIS, refugees and, most likely, BREXIT and Trump’s election. Obama had worn himself out by drawing all those red lines, but that was easier than taking action, wasn’t it? So, the O-Man will always have Paris.Report

    1. metitometin July 21, 2017 9:37 am

      Global Warming affects everyone, not just the elites. In fact, it’ll be the working class people that will be harder hit in the manufacturing Midwest states, as Global Warming disproportionally affects Midwestern states harder than other parts of the country. Global Warming is already happening. Or have you not noticed the hot winters we’ve been having lately? People who continue to deny it just to stick it to Democrats are beyond reproach at this point. Weather is getting more severe every year, more droughts, more wildfires, more intense rain, more sea level rise.Report

  4. brainstar8 July 21, 2017 9:58 am

    Nothing is more amusing than emotional responses on this subject, such as yours. People who call others “climate change deniers” need to come up with another insult. No one with an IQ of at least 70 can deny science. It’s silly to keep slinging around that terminology, as if it makes sense. However, the other references you make are science-based. We are witness to those severe changes. It deeply pains me to see Glacier National losing its glaciers.

    For the record, I am neither a Trump supporter nor a climate change denier. Of course climate change is happening; it’s cyclical as well as man-made. It’s also a global trillion-dollar industry. Accords, Summits and hang-wringing media and marchers who drive their cars to metro downtown areas will have very little effect on what is happening. It’s mostly hot air – and this might hasten the warming, my! my! – and it’s big money for those in the climate change fear game. But it’s a cause for people who have spare time to contemplate and get involved in.Report


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