Mith a 21-gun salute, the sound of fanfares and military honor guards, French President Emmanuel Macron was ceremonially received at the White House by American President Joe Biden. After the national anthems, Biden and Macron addressed the cheering audience. “The flame of freedom” burns brighter around the world thanks to the close ties between the two countries, Biden said. “We need to know how we can become brothers in arms again,” said the guest, recalling the two world wars when the Americans jumped to France’s rescue side.
In view of the return of war to Europe, friendship is once again particularly important. Biden said the alliance with France is crucial as Vladimir Putin seeks to “take Ukraine by force.” The two presidents had already had dinner with their wives at a restaurant in Georgetown – the Bidens’ favorite Italian – the night before. As gifts on Thursday, Macron presented Biden with a model of the Ariane rocket and a record of the soundtrack to the film “A Man and a Woman” by filmmaker Claude Lelouch, who is traveling with the delegation. Jill and Joe Biden are said to have become closer at the cinema when the film was shown.
Macron did not wait for the official White House meeting with Biden to broach conflict issues. True to the Gaullist motto that as an ally one is not obliged to “loyal to the line”, Macron criticized the American Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) package as a “super aggressive initiative”. The investment plan of 355 billion euros is a challenge for Europe as an industrial location, Macron told senators and members of Congress. He warned that the double burden of increased energy prices and subsidies left Europe in danger of being left behind for the American economy.
Macron avoids the word protectionism
With a view to the “systemic rival” China, this is not a development that the Americans should want. After a nearly three-hour conversation with Biden in the White House, Macron sounded more cautious. “We want to be successful together, not against each other,” said Macron. Biden assured that investments in American climate protection should not be “at the expense” of European companies. Macron said spending on green energy needs to be better “synchronized”.
In a speech to the French-American community in the French embassy building in Washington late on Wednesday evening, Macron spoke of “the threat of fragmentation in the West” if the investment plan were implemented without regard to the EU. Given the war in Ukraine and China’s increasingly aggressive stance, it is crucial that “America and Europe move forward hand in hand.” Macron avoided directly accusing the Americans of protectionism. “The danger is that the United States looks first to the United States and then to China,” he said. France and Europe are at risk of falling behind. Macron’s strong words contrasted with the will of the American side to give the “oldest ally” from Europe a particularly warm welcome.