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This content was published on April 17, 2018 11:54 April 17, 2018 – 11:54
The European Union must “firmly defend” its democracy against the “authoritarian” temptation in some countries, French President Emmanuel Macron urged on Tuesday in his first speech to the European Parliament since his election, seen as a pro-European impulse.
“I do not want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers, (…) to a generation that has forgotten its own past,” declared the 40-year-old French president, interrupted on several occasions by the applause of the MEPs gathered in Strasbourg (northeast of France).
The European project, born from the rubble of the Second World War and which was able to integrate countries of the former Soviet orbit in the 2000s, is preparing for its biggest change in decades: the withdrawal from the United Kingdom in March 2019.
The election of Macron in May, in front of the French far-right Marine Le Pen, was seen as a Europeanist impulse to this new post-Brexit Europe, although the Eurosceptic forces do not fall within the bloc as demonstrated by the recent victories in Hungary and Italy .
“A kind of European civil war reappears”, “our national selfishness often seems more important than what unites us in front of the rest of the world”, estimated the tenant of the Elysee, warning that “the illiberal fascination grows more and more”.
Emmanuel Macron redoubled his Europeanist vision, advanced in his speeches at the Sorbonne University and Athens, at a time when Brussels maintains a pulse with the conservative nationalist government of Poland for the situation of their rule of law.
– ‘The real France’ –
“The real France is back”, celebrated the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for whom Europe is not only the “Franco-German engine”, the first two economies of the euro zone.
However, the reformist impulse of Paris has been slowed down precisely by the past political paralysis in Germany, at first, and by its reluctance on some Macron plans, shared with other EU partners.
Regarding the idea of a specific budget for the euro zone, the conservative party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, skeptical of the reform projects for the euro countries, considered it a bad idea on Monday.
The French president, who will meet with Merkel this week, nevertheless maintains his reformist will and took advantage of his time in the Chamber to propose the creation of a European program to finance local entities that welcome refugees, a thorny issue of the bloc.
For Macron, it is necessary to “unblock the poisoned debate on the Dublin regulation and the relocations, but also go further in this debate building the internal and external solidarity that Europe needs”.
France is also willing to “increase its contribution” to the first European budget without the United Kingdom, for the period 2021-2028 and which, according to the French president, must “express a political project of coherence, effectiveness and convergence”.
His applauded address to the MEPs is part of a seduction operation with a view to the May 2019 elections to the European Parliament, where Macron’s party, ‘The Republic In March’, seeks its place for the next legislature by not being affiliated to no European political family.
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