Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Macron to present plan for a 'forward marching' Europe

  • Macron: "I will fight so that our political and individual freedoms and our fundamental rights are scrupulously respected". (Photo: Reuters)

The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, said on Tuesday (9 May) that he wanted Europe to be "conquering" and "march forward".

In a video address posted on Europe Day, which commemorates the 1950 Schuman Declaration, the starting point of the European project, Macron said that the EU was "essential".

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Without mentioning Brexit or anti-EU forces like Marine Le Pen - the far-right leader he beat in the French election on Sunday - he said that the EU could not "remain frozen for eternity".

"If we want to be up to this anniversary … we must build again our Europe and go further," he said. Macron added that he did not want a "naive" Europe that is "sometimes inefficient and insufficient", nor to "go back to an ideal Europe".

Referring to the name of his political movement, En Marche! (Marching forward), Macron said that he would "not be a seated president," saying he wanted that "Europe today and tomorrow can march forward again," so that it can "be worthy of yesterday's promises".

"We need a Europe that is conquering on climate, on collective security," he added. "A strong Europe that can talk to the US, to China, and to many other powers; a Europe that defends its values".

Repeating an idea that was shared by almost all candidates in the French presidential election, Macron also said that Europe "should protect" workers and ensure "coherence and cohesion in an increasingly uncertain and unsettled world".

The new French leader indirectly referred to concerns over the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, and insisted on the need to protect EU values.

"I will fight so that our political and individual freedoms [and] our fundamental rights are scrupulously respected," he said.

Macron announced that he would meet German chancellor Angela Merkel next week to "present" his project and "have an exchange" about it. He said he also wanted to discuss with "all European leaders and all European institutions".

Although EU leaders greeted Macron's election with relief after he beat Le Pen and defended a pro-EU programme, they have expressed wariness to his ideas.

'Dangerous forest'

Merkel said on Monday that she wanted to see first "which points we [Macron and Merkel] have in common" and noted that she didn't think that "changing [her] policies would be the priority".

Also on Monday, while in Berlin, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU had "a particular problem" with France: "The French spend too much money and they spend too much in the wrong places."

He added that France would have to "compromise with others" because "Germany is not alone in speaking out about a policy of stability".

On Tuesday, at a conference in Brussels for Europe Day, Juncker also said that Macron's proposal to create an EU finance minister was "a very dangerous forest" because he raised questions over who would be in charge of controlling the budgets of member states.

The commission chief went on to admit that he was "in agreement" with a eurozone budget, another one of Macron's idea, but that he wanted to "see the details".

Analysis

Where might Macron clash with Europe?

After the celebrations around Europe of centrist Emmanuel Macron's win over far-right Marine Le Pen, the sobering years of governance are still to come. Macron might be pro-EU, but he has a lot of reform ideas that might irk others.

EU relieved by Macron's win

EU leaders saw Macron's victory as a blow against nationalism and Russian meddling, but one in three French voters still picked the far right.

Analysis

Macron, a new Franco-European monarch

The new French president mixed republican pomp and European faith in his victory celebration. But to succeed, he will have to start a revolution.

Give Macron 'a chance', says EU finance chief

EU finance chief Moscovici expected France to reduce its deficit, but put "no pressure" on its new leader. All EU member states are expected to grow this year.

Macron victory fires up German campaign

Incoming French president was welcomed as a saviour from the far-right, but some of his economic proposals are anathema in Berlin ahead of September's elections.

Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype

The two biggest parties in Catalonia have vowed to put Puigdemont back in office despite Madrid's threat to maintain direct rule.

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