Macron: the hero of Biarritz?

For all the turbulence the G7 states wrapped up the summit by issuing a joint statement. French President Emmanuel Macron had previously announced that there would be no final declaration due to differences of opinion with US President Donald Trump. Many commentators credit Macron for the progress made on the trade dispute and Iran. For some, however, the French host went too far.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

With charm and persuasiveness

Macron turned the meeting into a surprising success, Paris correspondent Anais Ginori comments in La Repubblica:

“The Macron show produced a number of results. ... From accelerating the negotiations on Iran, to a test run for a dialogue between the US and China that could ease the trade tensions, the summit in Biarritz has advanced the agenda on several of the most complicated international issues. Nothing spectacular, but in comparison with the initial expectations, a success. With his charm and his undisputed powers of persuasion Macron was able to tame Donald Trump's explosive character. The isolationist and sovereigntist president, who until just a few days ago was threatening to sabotage the summit, is now boasting of the 'major success of the G7'.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Not a bad weekend for Europe

The Handelsblatt is full of praise for Macron:

“His combination of hardness, malleability, flattery and risk-taking might just be the right recipe for foreign policy in times of a US president with a limited capacity for rational behaviour. ... Perhaps Trump is even impressed that Macron refused to be cowed by threats of new tariffs. The Frenchman achieved quite a bit in Biarritz: the G7 is united in pushing for dialogue instead of threats with Iran, it wants a minimum tax for big companies and is trying to protect the rainforest. From Chile to Africa and Japan to Australia, the whole world had a rendevous in Biarritz, seeking common ground. For a Europe that is supposedly in decline this was not a bad weekend.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Host will profit domestically

After this successful stint as host Macron's popularity at home is likely to increase too, Le Monde notes:

“The courage and conviction with which the French president led this international meeting should enable him to strengthen his position domestically. ... In Biarritz his main focus was on three particularly sensitive issues in French public opinion: ecology, free trade and inequality. ... The G7 summit, which initially threatened to be a catastrophe in the worst case and irrelevant at best, ultimately turned into a meeting at which heads of state were able to conduct a smooth dialogue even on the many issues where they do not agree.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Trump's divisive tactics fail

While the French president shone, the US president failed in his attempts to sow discord, The Irish Times is pleased to note:

“If maintaining a public veneer of civility was the chief objective of this weekend's summit in Biarritz, then that was largely achieved. But the gathering once again highlighted the deep fissures that divide the group - or, more accurately, divide the US and the rest - on foreign policy, trade and tariffs. …The summit did at least confirm that, on the most pressing issues, Trump has failed to drive a wedge between the rest of the group. On tariffs and Iran, his isolation was striking, with even Boris Johnson, who will soon be pleading with the US for a reasonable trade deal, dissociating himself from Trump's positions.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Everyone annoyed by the lecturing

Ria Novosti, however, was not impressed by the French president's brashness at the summit:

“Even Macron's G7 colleagues were deeply unhappy with his behaviour, his aggression and his sudden desire to turn the summit agenda on its head simply to demonstrate his geopolitical ambitions (which he hadn't even discussed with Merkel). The list of those who got a good telling-off from him is impressively long ... Macron lashed out at the Brazilian president (whom he called a liar among other things) and also went on a collision course with US President Trump on the issue of lifting the sanctions against Iranian oil exports.”

Večer (SI) /

A summit with no breakthrough

Večer is thoroughly disappointed with the results of the summit:

“The small change that was offered for putting out the fires in the Amazon is absurd. The money spent on the security of the politicians and their companions was far too high. ... The visit of the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammed Jawad Sarif, which wasn't even on the agenda, will probably be the most memorable aspect. Two main protagonists at the summit, Emmanuel Macron, who brought Sarif to Biarritz, and Donald Trump, who allegedly knew about it and approved, are boasting about this. The fact that there was no breakthrough in the crisis over the Iranian nuclear deal can mean a lot or nothing at all.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Seeking new alliances

The G7 can't do anything anymore, Deutschlandfunk surmises:

“As long as populist players like US President Donald Trump or Britain's Boris Johnson are calling the shots a meeting originally based on consensus among the supposedly most important industrial nations will be doomed to fail. ... In view of this the host's attempt to forge new multilateral alliances is not inapt. ... Many African states, but also Chile and India are also sitting at the negotiating and dining table in Biarritz, so new alliances are possible. Situations like the catastrophic fires in the Amazon triggered by populist Bolsonaro's reckless 'Brazil-first' policy at least hold out a little hope that more of the world's leaders will be able to agree on a consistent climate protection policy.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Russia and China should be included

Key players are missing at the negotiating table, the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap criticises:

“Berlin, Paris and London also know very well that China is the world's second-strongest economic power and by far the biggest exporter. Russia, for its part, has the second-strongest army after the United States and is an indispensable supplier of oil and gas for half of Europe. So it is high time to expand the G7 to include Russia, China, and India, which is set to become the world's fifth largest economy. If the EU really wants to be a serious 'global player' in Biarritz, it should avoid making the same mistake as Napoléon III, who thought it was he and not the Prussians who set the tone. That mistake cost him his throne.”

Obosrewatel (UA) /

Keep Moscow at a distance

The possibility of a G8 summit with Russia seems to have receded into the distance, journalist Witalij Portnikow rejoices in Obozrevatel:

“The request of presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron that President Putin be invited to join the 'group of seven' next year has provoked strong political and social reactions. Rather than wanting him back, most just want to know how he can be kept away. This is the best gift for Ukraine on Independence Day [August 24]. The longer the political isolation of Russia and its leader lasts, the less likely it is that Ukraine will become embroiled in a new hybrid conflict with the Kremlin or lose additional territories. On the contrary, the re-establishment of its territorial integrity looks increasingly likely.”

Der Standard (AT) /

An effective counterweight to populists

The G7, under European leadership, has an important task when it comes to dealing with populists like Trump and Bolsonaro, Der Standard argues, praising the French president:

“Macron basically found a good approach years ago when he explained that it was important 'to talk to everyone, but to talk straight'. Imagine how free Trump would feel and how unsafe he would make the world if he wasn't integrated in international bodies like the G7 any more. By the same token, one can imagine that Bolsonaro would be more cooperative if his country were to be admitted to the circle of the 'major' powers - and they were then to talk straight to him. The Brazilian seems to be open to solid Western arguments and forms of pressure. That should be made use of.”

Financial Times (GB) /

The West needs to focus on common interests

The G7 can only solve its biggest problems through cooperation, warns the Financial Times:

“Concentrate on the big strategic questions that are facing the west. That is the best way to make the body relevant again. But what are these questions? For one, the EU and the UK need to agree on how to manage a no-deal Brexit - if reaching a new deal proves to be impossible. A second step would be for Europe and the US to agree that the developing Sino-Russian alliance is a challenge that is better met together. Third, France and Italy must bury the hatchet. Making the eurozone safe for the next economic crisis requires working with Germany too.”

Libération (FR) /

Demonstrators setting the agenda

Although the activists and critics of the G7 summit are kept at a distance from the politicians, they are the ones who are setting the agenda, comments Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of Libération:

“A majority of the protesters at the anti-G7 in the Basque Country have peaceful intentions. They're content to take part in discussions and marches. Above all, over the years these alternative events held parallel to the main summits have been far more productive than their official counterparts. In the 1990s it was the alternative culture that focussed attention on global inequalities, climate change, and the need for debt relief. All of these ideas were picked up - in general ten years later - by the heads of state and government at later summits, sometimes with the prospect of tangible decisions.”