Emmanuel Macron faces ‘terrible humiliation’ as French leader sidelined at key EU event

Macron is a ‘little king in his castle’ says protester

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The event, jointly organised by the European Parliament and the European Commission, is aimed at considering the medium-to-long-term future of the bloc. As head of state of the host country, Mr Macron is due to get the event underway on May 9 – but given he is due to speak between 2.05pm and 2.10pm, his opportunity for saying anything particularly substantive is limited.

He told Express.co.uk: “It is a terrible humiliation.

“The French President was asked to act as a figurehead, and Emmanuel Macron enthusiastically accepted.

“Who can believe that in ten minutes he will have the opportunity to make a substantive speech?”

Mr Macron is gearing up for a bruising re-election battle next year, with Marine Le Pen, also of National Rally, his most likely opponent.

As such, Mr Bay suggested he will have viewed the event as a springboard for his future political ambitions, especially with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel due to stand down later this year

He explained: “The conference on the future of Europe was supposed to be an opportunity for him to establish himself as a leader of Europe.

“But this ten-minute opening speech reminds him of his true stature.”

To rub salt in the wound, Mr Bay suggested Mr Macron had only been given the time he had been because the event was being held in Strasbourg.

Mr Bay said: “Macron is, therefore, someone Brussels felt forced to invite without really wanting to listen to him speak.

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In reference to the President of the United States, he added: “If Biden were invited to ‘wrap up’ in such a short time, it would rightly be seen as a sign of deep disdain for the United States and a direct message that his country has no significant influence in international discussions.”

Mr Bay is not the only one to suggest Mr Macron’s time allocation is a snub for the 43-year-old former merchant banker, who was elected France’s leader in 2017.

Speaking last week, Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “This is the Conference that many European countries did not want to happen.

“It was a Macron idea and the Federalists in Europe love it but the Macron name is no longer an attractive brand.

“Hence he will open the Conference but I imagine the Federalists would prefer that he does not become associated with it in the public mind. They will try to minimise his role.”

Pieter Cleppe, a research fellow with the Property Rights Alliance think tank said: “That sounds a bit short, indeed, certainly as it is five minutes shorter than that allotted to each of the conference’s three patron-presidents.

“One would expect the voice of representatives of EU member states to carry more weight than one of the EU dignitaries.”

Mr Cleppe stressed: “From the beginning, the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ has been plagued by infighting on who should preside it, and it is no coincidence to witness this struggle continue.

“At the moment, everything points at the conference being hijacked by those that want to push for ever more power and money for the EU.”

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