French president urges EU reform to fight rising nationalism


French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged the European Union to reform itself in order to offer better protection for its citizens in a world troubled by wars and authoritarian regimes.
The 40-year-old leader, who wants to play a key leadership role in the EU, outlined his vision for Europe’s future in a speech at the Strasbourg-based European Parliament.
Macron said democracy is the “best chance” for the EU to fight against rising nationalism on the continent.
“Faced with authoritarianism, the answer is not democratic authoritarianism but the authority of democracy,” he said.
Macron called for an energetic campaign for the European Parliament election in May 2019 as the EU also deals with the challenges of Britain’s departure.
He told EU lawmakers that it’s important “to have a democratic, critical debate on what Europe is about.”
Macron said citizens “want a new project” for the EU which addresses their concerns and fears in a world in which allies such as the U.S. are turning their backs on multilateral trade and climate change pacts.
All EU countries, except Britain and Hungary, have agreed to seek opinions of their citizens on the EU’s future through debates and online consultations by summer.
Macron will attend a debate on Europe in the eastern town of Epinal later Tuesday.
Speaking after Macron, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU isn’t just a club led by France and Germany.
Juncker said Macron’s arrival in power in France has “given new hope” to the world’s biggest trading bloc. But he recalled that “Europe is an ensemble,” even with Britain set to leave the EU next year.
Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, as France and Germany aim to agree on proposals for EU reforms by June.
During Macron’s speech, some European lawmakers raised placards reading “Stop the war in Syria” and “Hands off Syria” to protest against joint airstrikes by U.S., Britain and France on chemical weapons facilities in Syria on Saturday.
French President Emmanuel Macron says the European Union shouldn’t accept any new member countries until the 28-nation bloc is more deeply integrated and has undergone thorough reform.
Macron has told EU lawmakers that he wants to anchor countries of the Western Balkans to the European project, but that now isn’t the time to allow any to join.
He said: “I will only support an enlargement when there is first a deepening and a reform of our Europe.”
Macron added: “I don’t want a Balkans that turns toward Turkey or Russia, but I don’t want a Europe that, functioning with difficulty at 28 and tomorrow as 27, would decide that we can continue to gallop off, to be tomorrow 30 or 32, with the same rules.”
EU and Balkans leaders meet next month to discuss the volatile region’s future, but the 28-nation bloc is unlikely to invite any country in the region to join.
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11:40 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron is proposing creating a new tax on the digital economy to help finance the European Union budget.
In a speech in Strasbourg-based EU parliament, Macron called for a reform of the budget of the European Union to take into account Britain’s departure. He didn’t offer details of his digital proposal, but has called previously for taxing internet giants.
He said Tuesday France is ready to increase its own contribution to the EU budget and insisted European countries should work on more closely harmonizing fiscal systems and tax levels.
He said he will push for an EU carbon tax in a move to fight against climate change and protect companies taking action to reduce their climate impact.
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11.10 a.m.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the European Union is not just a club led by France and Germany, addressing amid concerns that the EU’s traditional driving countries dominate the bloc.
Juncker told French President Emmanuel Macron and EU lawmakers Tuesday that “Europe is not only Franco-German. We are 28” member nations.
Juncker said Macron’s arrival in power in France has “given new hope” to the world’s biggest trading bloc. But he recalled that “Europe is an ensemble,” even with Britain set to leave the EU next year.
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11:00 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for an energetic campaign for European Union elections next year as the bloc deals with the challenges of Britain’s departure and rising nationalism.
Macron told EU lawmakers Tuesday that it’s important “to have a democratic, critical debate on what Europe is about” ahead of the election for the European Parliament in May 2019.
Macron said citizens “want a new project” for the EU which addresses their concerns and fears in a world where allies such as the U.S. are turning their back on multilateral trade and climate change pacts.