As Chief of the General Staff of the French Armies General François Lecointre resigns, is Emmanuel Macron facing his "Waterloo" in the "Sausage Wars"?

French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said on Monday that current tensions over Brexit between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and the European Union were "a test" for Europe.

The tensions between Britain and the EU threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit's conclusion on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom.

"Mr Johnson thinks that you can sign deals with the Europeans and not respect them and that Europe will not react. It is a test for Europe," Beaune told Europe 1 radio.

"I am telling the British people, (Brexit) commitments must be respected... If it is not the case, retaliatory measures could be taken," Beaune added.

During talks with Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, Johnson queried how the French president would react if Toulouse sausages could not be sold in Paris markets, echoing London's accusation that the EU is preventing sales of British chilled meats in Northern Ireland.

Macron himself is under domestic pressure due to his government's poor performance in the COVID19 vaccine rollout, which the French people are comparing to the success of the British rollout. His approval ratings over the last two months have been "appalling": Macron is fighting for his political survival.

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His nemesis, Marie Le Pen, has seized upon this, declaring that Macron is facing his "Waterloo" (a reference to the most bitter of all French military defeats by the British).

General François Lecointre

Against this backdrop, General François Lecointre, Chief of the General Staff of the French Armies, who was appointed by Macron following a public confrontation over the Defence budget with then Chief of the Armies, General Pierre de Villiers, is to resign at his own request after the national holiday of July 14th (Bastille Day).

The General explained that the decision was taken in order to avoid the “politicisation” of the position, which he felt would have occurred if he had left coinciding with the end of the first five-year presidential term of Emmanuel Macron in May 2022.

“I did not want it,” Lecointre said in an interview with RTL radio, “because I think it is important that there is no overlap, that the chief of the Army General Staff, who is a military commander, be associated with a political”

Lecointre, a military hero who took part in the last ever French bayonet charge during the battle of Vrbanja Bridge, Sarajevo, in 1995, said that he does not wish to be the "General of Macron".

Image (General François Lecointre) By Jérémy Barande / Ecole polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Phillipe Jeune

Phillipe Jeune

Phillipe Jeune is a Paris-based freelance journalist, and an occasional contributor to EU Today. He has a background in intelligence gathering, and he specialises in business and political matters, with a particular interest in Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas.

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