STRASBOURG (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron urged Europeans on Tuesday to halt a retreat into nationwide antagonisms and rebuild the European Union as a bulwark for liberal democracy in opposition to a disorderly and harmful world.
Addressing the European Parliament, he received applause from lawmakers after condemning the rise of “intolerant democracies” even inside the EU and portraying a “Europe that protects” individuals. Dozens of nationalist MEPs sat in silence, nevertheless.
Macron famous he was too younger to have recognized the wars that preceded the EU however his household and northern French residence area had seen “each blood letting”. Echoing the language of historians about Europe’s slide into conflict a century in the past, he mentioned he wouldn’t belong to a different “technology of sleepwalkers” and let the EU wither in what he known as an environment of “civil conflict”.
Egocentric nationalism was gaining floor, Macron warned. Nevertheless it was a “recreation of fools” to halt or reverse sharing sovereignty amongst EU states within the face of challenges starting from local weather change and mass migration to the rising energy of multinational companies and authoritarian states — a reference to China and Russia, amongst others. Europe’s ally the USA was, he lamented, additionally being “tempted by unilateralism”.
“We want a sovereignty that’s stronger than simply our personal, which enhances however doesn’t substitute it,” Macron mentioned in Strasbourg, a French frontier metropolis which has turn out to be a logo of Franco-German reconciliation after centuries as a prize of conflict.
The professional-EU rhetoric of his first yr in workplace has stirred enthusiasm from some. “The actual France is again,” declared Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU chief govt, after Macron spoke. However the French chief faces a battle to steer German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and particularly her extra conservative supporters, to throw their weight behind grand European designs from Paris.
NO TO NATIONALISM
Macron tackled critics amongst his Nationwide Entrance opponents at residence and European leaders resembling newly re-elected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, rejecting visions of intolerant democracy, hostile to immigration and illiberal of criticism.
“Within the face of authoritarianism, the response will not be authoritarian democracy however the authority of democracy,” Macron mentioned. He went on to explain nationalism as a useless finish.
“We should hear the anger of Europe’s peoples immediately,” he mentioned. “They want a brand new mission. Those that commerce on that anger are risking nationalisms tearing Europe aside.”
Far-right lawmaker Florian Philippot, a former Nationwide Entrance member, accused Macron of humiliating France’s historic statehood by taking part in to an viewers of unrepresentative European elites. Left-wingers criticised the president for supporting free markets, together with labour reforms which have triggered a weekly spherical of paralysing rail strikes in France.
Calling for fellow EU leaders to comply with his instance in holding a public dialogue on Europe’s future, Macron famous that he was launching the method later that day in jap France.
With a bit of over a yr till elections to the European Parliament, he lamented the truth that fewer than half of EU residents bothered to prove for earlier such votes.
He volunteered that France was able to pay extra into the EU finances presently being negotiated as Britain leaves — given that the Union reforms in ways in which France desires.
Macron ran by way of his want record for deeper EU integration as Britain prepares to go away subsequent March. This included new taxation of digital companies, extra help for refugees, nearer cooperation in defence and a stronger widespread strategy to working the EU’s single foreign money.
Macron was talking on the invitation of the European Parliament, which has requested leaders of all of the member states to offer their views on the EU’s future following Brexit.
Responding to a name from a British lawmaker to keep up shut ties, Macron took a dig at Brexit, saying that one of the simplest ways to have shut relations with the EU was to be a member.
Extra reporting by Michel Rose in Paris; modifying by David Stamp