After German election, France's Macron paints sweeping vision for Europe
French President Emmanuel Macron offered an ambitious vision for European renewal on Tuesday, calling for the EU to work more closely on defense and immigration and for the euro zone to have its own budget, ideas he may struggle to implement, Reuters reported.
In a nearly two-hour speech delivered two days after the German election in which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s alliance underperformed, limiting her freedom to maneuver on Europe, the 39-year-old French president held little back in terms of sweep, self-assurance and aspiration.
But at a time when Europe is beset by tensions between east and west and battling to overcome nearly a decade of draining economic crisis, Macron’s earnest and at times high-brow discourse ran the risk of falling on deaf ears.
Speaking at the Sorbonne, he portrayed Europe as needing to relaunch itself, saying that on issues as diverse as asylum, border protection, corporate tax, intelligence sharing, defense and financial stability it needed much deeper cooperation.
“The only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic,” the former investment banker and philosophy student said, flanked by a French and a European Union flag.
“At the beginning of the next decade, Europe must have a joint intervention force, a common defense budget and a joint doctrine for action.”
In his run for the presidency, Macron made European reform a central plank of his centrist campaign, and he and Merkel have spoken frequently about their desire for France and Germany, the European Union’s two largest economies and often its engines of change, to take the lead on integration.
But five months into his five-year term, Macron faces the threat that Merkel, 63 and looking to start her fourth term, has less capacity to move than either would have hoped.