In an expected speech to MEPs, as France steps into the EU’s rotating presidency beginning on January 1 for six months, Emmanuel Macron assumed the posture of a future candidate for his succession at the head of the French State on this Wednesday, January 19.
And for good measure, he proposed “to update the Charter of Fundamental Rights [of the EU], in particular to be more explicit on … the recognition of the right to abortion.” The speech was intended to present the line that the presidency would follow for its 6-month term, but Macron took advantage of it to situate himself vis-à-vis his future rivals.
The reason – or rather the pretext – for this proposal is obviously the election, the day before, of the new president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, an anti-abortion Maltese. This election created a certain controversy in his own camp. Emmanuel Macron had to take the initiative.
But those who know European law know that this is – fortunately – almost impossible to achieve. Because a revision of the Charter of Fundamental Rights can only be done with the unanimous agreement of the Twenty-Seven member countries. And, at the moment, it seems impossible for Poland to support the introduction of the right to abortion in the Charter.
It is very likely that other countries, such as Hungary, would also show opposition to this attempt.
As for Malta, we arrive at the impossibility. There is a protocol annexed to the treaty of accession of the country to the EU, which guarantees that European legislation, current and future, will not be able to modify the national law on abortion, nor affect its application. Besides, the Elysée Palace has confirmed that “the revision of the Charter of Fundamental Rights presupposes a change in the treaties.”
Manon Aubry, of La France Insoumise political party, did not fail to pick up on the consequences in French law: “It is not enough to inscribe the right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We still have to defend it, accept the extension of its deadline in France and not compromise with states like Poland which are destroying this fundamental right to dispose of our body.”
Moreover, contrary to what is often proclaimed, abortion is not a right in the strict sense in France: it has only been decriminalized. But this is something that could change. The future candidate Macron has undoubtedly sent a strong signal in this direction to leftist movements and feminists. He could be the one who turns the crime against an innocent child into a right.