Macron calls for a new security order and talks with Russia


On Wednesday January 19, French President Emmanuel Macron had the opportunity to define his Europe.

With European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel both absent in quarantine after a Covid scare, Macron had a five-hour tour de force during the Strasbourg plenary ahead of the presidential elections. April French.

He explained how he sees the EU as France assumes the rotating Council Presidency for the next six months.

The 45-year-old has received blows from his French political opponents, including Green Party presidential challenger MEP Yannick Jadot, who challenged Macron over his stance on migration, blaming him for the deaths of claimants asylum in the English Channel, and accused him of doing nothing about climate change.

In France, the president does not participate in debates in the National Assembly, and having to answer lawmakers’ questions in a debate is an unusual affair in the French context. Some MEPs have chastised fellow French lawmakers for challenging Macron.

Macron belatedly ended his time in Strasbourg with a delayed “press conference” where he – and new European Parliament President Roberta Metsola – answered no questions, prompting several journalists to leave in protest.

Macron in his speech returned to his theme to call for a more autonomous and sovereign EU.

He said Europe needed to establish its own security framework and continue talks with Moscow.

“In the next few months, we should make a European proposal, build a new order of security and stability, we must build it between Europeans, then share it with our NATO allies and then propose it for negotiation with Russia. “, said Macron. noted.

Then, Europe should “propose it for negotiations with Russia”, he added, believing “we need this dialogue”.

Macron also said the EU could not just react to international crises.

He said the EU should better defend its external borders and promised to move forward with an EU rapid reaction force, arguing that Europe needs to better equip itself and “fight against the illegal immigration”.

Macron, whose country has been reluctant to accept EU enlargement, also said Western Balkan countries should have a clear perspective on EU membership, and that their membership should take place in “a reasonable delay”.

Macron tried to define a European identity referring to Christianity, to the Enlightenment, a European historical and cultural heritage.

He pledged to “bring together the best historians and intellectuals to build together the fruits of a common history”.

“The end of the rule of law is the beginning of authoritarianism”

Macron has cast himself as the defender of the rule of law, who has recently come under pressure in Poland and Hungary, two member states under EU scrutiny over concerns about judicial independence and democratic backsliding.

“We are a generation rediscovering how democracy and the rule of law can be undermined,” he said, but without mentioning Hungary or Poland.

He said the rule of law is “not an invention of Brussels”, but the result of Europe’s common history and the fight against totalitarianism.

“The end of the rule of law is the beginning of authoritarianism”, he said, adding that it can be defended through dialogue, by “convincing people who have moved away from respecting it”. to come back to it.

The Covid-19 pandemic, he argued, showed that free and open societies have protected their citizens and economies better than authoritarian regimes.

Macron also said he would push for abortion rights and environmental protection to be added to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“This charter needs to be updated to be more explicit about environmental protection, [and] recognition of the right to abortion,” Macron told MPs.

He said growing inequalities in the EU meant a new model was needed to tackle climate and digital challenges, stressing the need to limit the power of tech giants.

The leader of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group, Manfred Weber, has warned Macron that bringing EU leaders to parliament every six months at the start of presidencies is a “boring” exercise.

“We hear the same thing,” he said, telling Macron to take concrete action against Russia and against the rule of law. “We need actions, not words,” Weber added, saying the real question is how to continue to divide Western societies and prevent further polarization.


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