French president Emmanuel Macron has mounted a strong defence of his EU reform plans, saying he doesn’t want to belong to “a generation of sleepwalkers”.
In a dramatic speech to the European Parliament, he warned that the bloc is facing dangerous internal divisions and is stuck in a kind of “European civil war”.
“National selfishness and egotism seems to take precedence over what brings us together,” Mr Macron told MEPs in Strasbourg. He said there was a “fascination with the illiberal” and that the bloc faced “geopolitical threats” from Russia and others. He set out a vision based on EU “sovereignty” and joint “responsibility” for the bloc’s successes and failures.
“I don’t want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers, a generation that has forgotten its own past and that refuses to see the torments of its present,” Mr Macron told MEPs, to a triple standing ovation.
“I want to belong to a generation that has made the firm commitment to defend its democracy. Everyone must assume his responsibility.”
In a speech designed to play to MEPs’ egos, he repeated his call for a separate eurozone budget and new EU taxes to fund the bloc’s post-2020 spending, and lauded EU moves to boost security and defence co-operation, trade, and health and safety standards.
MEPs are looking ahead to next May’s European elections, the first to be held without the UK as a member state.
His moves to boost ties between the euro countries with a specific investment budget or to create a European Monetary Fund to rival the IMF have run into difficulties.