Macron: Europe is too slow, blind to dangers of nationalism

Macron: Europe is too slow, blind to dangers of nationalism

France is electing about half of its senators Sunday, in an important vote for President Emmanuel Macron's reform plans, threatened by his declining popularity just four months after his election in May. In addition to creating a joint military budget across Europe, Macron requested "Common Intervention Force" and "Common Doctrine" in defense.

Macron, a centrist elected on a platform of strengthening the eurozone and promoting European Union integration, has staked his political future on being able to draw European Union countries together politically and economically.

He added that beyond acknowledging the need for European solutions, "we also need the common European will" to implement them.

In a almost 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 the sweep, self-assurance and aspiration.

Eurozone reforms were at the center of Macron's speech.

To reduce inequalities across the EU, Mr Macron also suggested greater harmonisation of EU tax policies, notably on corporate taxes, and taxing internet giants where they make money and not where they are registered.

Mr. Macron has previously said a budget for the eurozone should be worth several percentage points of the bloc's gross domestic product, and be funded by common borrowing as well as a portion of taxes that are now national.

"I think there is a big scepticism in Germany that this would be useful in the first place, and I don't see how the speech would overcome the scepticism", Guntram Wolff, director of the Bruegel think tank, told dpa.

Mr Macron also wants a European border police, and asylum judges to adjudicate on which immigrants are allowed to stay on the continent.

He wants to open the French military to European soldiers and proposed other EU member states do the same on a voluntary basis.

"The only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic", he said. "We have to openly discuss all ideas and decide before May 2019". He repeated the proposal to organize democratic conventions in member states to start a transparent debate about the priorities of the European Union.

And in signs cracks could begin to engulf the Franco-German partnership, Angela Merkel's spokesman said it was "too early for a detailed assessment" after Mr Macron's delivered his plans.

The fiscally conservative FDP has made clear its opposition to many of Macron's proposals, disliking the idea of a eurozone budget or any facility that may lead to financial transfers from wealthier euro zone countries to poorer ones, or the possibility of national debt being pooled.

Radical leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon accused Macron of wanting "a Europe of aggressive defence.dedicated to the single market where France abandons its industry, schools and political independent".



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