Emmanuel Macron arrived in Washington on Tuesday night for a state visit that will mix White House pomp and talks with Joe Biden over the war in Ukraine and U.S. trade protectionism.
The French president, who landed around 00:40 GMT, intends to discuss with his American counterpart the massive plan to support the energy transition, or Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which grants generous subsidies to electric vehicles, batteries or renewable energies. provided they are “made in America”.
In front of the big bosses of the two countries received for lunch at the Élysée just before leaving, Emmanuel Macron estimated, according to the presidency, that this law would “on the right track, for the benefit of the ecological transition”but included “protectionist measures that pose major challenges for European manufacturers”.
“To deal with it, he insisted on the importance of a concerted European response and the adoption of a Buy European Act”, which would also give priority to products made on the Old Continent, reported its services.
If Paris has mentioned in recent days the possibility of snatching “exemptions” to the IRA for some European industries, we also know that this will not change the architecture of this crucial plan for Joe Biden’s balance sheet.
Especially since these exceptions remain very hypothetical.
“For the moment, we are in a listening phase to fully understand the concerns of our European partners”White House spokesman John Kirby told French journalists on Tuesday, suggesting that no concrete decisions should be expected during this visit.
He assured that this plan was as favorable for the European economy as for the American economy. “Clean Energy Investments” are going “benefit to all”he pleaded.
Joe Biden himself does not seem to be in the mood to apologize for his measures in favor of American industry which are intended to “no longer to be taken hostage” other countries, he warned on Tuesday while visiting a microchip factory in the state of Michigan.
These frictions should in any case not spoil the celebration of this state visit, the second for Emmanuel Macron who was already Donald Trump’s guest of honor in 2018.
Especially since the American executive is full of praise for the “leadership”of “the experience” and of “wisdomof the French President. “Over the past year, France has been at the heart of literally every national security issue that matters to Americans and to our allies.”insisted John Kirby.
On Wednesday, after talking about space cooperation with Vice-President Kamala Harris in the presence of French astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Sophie Adenot, the environment with American parliamentarians and civil nuclear power with industry players, the Head of State will speak to the French community then meet, with his wife Brigitte Macron, Joe and Jill Biden for a “private dinner”.
Thursday, it is in a much more solemn, although festive, that Emmanuel Macron will be received at the White House, freshly adorned with the decorations and illuminations put in place for the end of the year celebrations.
Beyond trade issues, the American meeting should allow the presidents of the two allied countries to show their unity in support for Ukraine and, perhaps, to outline a common message in favor of the idea negotiations, in the long term, to end the war with Russia – a theme dear to the French head of state that some, in Washington, are also beginning to defend.